“The first known case of FauX was a werewolf in Spain,” Sookie said as she handed Eric the stack of files detailing everything they knew so far about the drug. “The user was a wealthy businessman name Felipe DeCastro.”
“DeCastro? He’s one of the richest men in the world,” Eric said, taking the files and flipping through them at vampire speed. “He attacked and killed two civilians in the town if Logrono.”
“Yes, SIN was able to cover it up through glamour and by taking possession of any damning conclusive evidence but the attacks were broadcast through the country before we realized that had happened.”
Closing the last file he looked at her, “So, we have two werewolves in London, a vampire in South America, and a shifter in Shreveport, Louisiana. That’s near your stomping ground isn’t it, Agent Stackhouse?” her face registered surprise.
“How did you know that?”
“Your accent. Can’t you tell the difference?” My accent, she thought, and then suppressed a smile. If he heard my real accent would he be able to place me so easily? Quickly, she suppressed the thought, too risky at SIN central to be thinking of anything other than the facts that she had trained herself to believe were truths.
She had not known what to expect tonight, after the kiss when they parted she had thought he might be flirtatious and would possibly assume that this was going to be more than business, but his actions and his thoughts has been straight forward and business oriented since he had arrived at fifteen minutes past sunset.
His change in wardrobe had been just as unexpected as his all business attitude. Gone were the Stetson, boots and jacket, replaced with black t-shirt, leather jacket, black motorcycle boots and dark skin tight jeans. He seemed at ease in these clothes, indicating that he wore them often and they were his preference when not under cover.
She, too, had played for comfort this evening, knowing they had a long night ahead of them, opting for jeans and red v-neck sweater. She had kept her cowboy boots though, not an affectation for the stage but her actual preferred shoes whenever possible. Her hair was down, projecting a more lax attitude than she felt, but she knew it would come in handy when they questioned their one and only collar from the disaster of the previous night, one Lafayette Reynolds.
“No, I suppose not,” she said coming back his question about accents and recognizing them. He had an air about him tonight, regal and lethal that he had not been projecting last night, and she wondered what had changed, or if this was just the true face of VBI Agent Eric Northman. Time would tell. “Yes, I grew up near there, but never spent much time in Shreveport. Do you know it?”
“I had a bar there once.” Her eyebrow came up. “It was another life,” he finished, offering nothing more. I need to read his file, she thought. “Notice anything about these users?” he asked testing her. She liked tests.
“You mean that they were all filthy rich?” He smiled his appreciation for her quick deductions.
“Exactly, that would indicate-“
“That FauX ain’t cheap,” she finished for him.
“Right. The Shreveport incident was the most recent and the messiest. They found the user, one Sam Merlotte, dead in an alley half transformed between a dog and man?” She winced.
“Yeah, that was not pretty.”
“I saw the pictures,” he said tapping the file. “There were no victims attributed to this instance of the drug?”
“No, seems like Sam just wanted to shift and run through the night and forgot to look for cars. The autopsy showed that he had been hit. Our theory is that the injuries he sustained combined with his inexperience at shifting led to his death in mid-transformation. We had a helluva time getting local enforcement and the ME’s office to let this one go.”
“Never leave home without a vampire in your pocket,” she joked smiling, not thinking about how the words sounded until they landed on the table between them. His gaze locked with hers and she heard him stray from business for the first time.
I’d like to be the vampire in your pocket, Agent Stackhouse.
“Perhaps I will come in handy then,” he said aloud. Not exactly what he had been thinking, but close enough to count for honesty given that this was not the time for sexual innuendo. She found herself liking him more and more with every peek she took into his head, so much so that she felt a little bad about violating his privacy this way, but it was too soon to just trust him and not keep her guard up, no matter what her instincts told her about him.
“Perhaps you will,” she said, smiling back.
“Should we question our prisoner now?” She was about to agree when she saw Alcide come into the room and motion for her to join him.
“I need a minute?” He glanced back, taking in the large tense wolf glaring at him from across the room and turned back to her.
“Sure.” He rose and walked with her toward Alcide. She saw her number one cross his arms defensively in front of his chest, indicating that he was not pleased to have Eric present for their conversation. She wasn’t sure that she was either, but before she could speak Eric held out his hand to Alcide.
“I wanted to apologize for the misunderstanding last night. I did not realize that she was your partner, and I was concerned for her wellbeing when you laid hands on her.” Alcide raised a brow and looked at Eric.
Who the fuck does this guy think he is, Sook?
Using the hand signals they had developed she told him to cool it and be nice.
“Hrmph! Do you always jump in where you are not wanted before you know what’s going on?” he asked Eric, rising to his full height, which was only an inch or two shorter than the vampire himself.
“Frequently,” Eric replied his tone still light, but Sookie noted his back stiffen at Alcide’s words. The were gave Eric a once over from head to toe and then took his outstretched hand.
“Me, too. Which means that we will probably get in each other’s way and on each other’s nerves often.”
“One would hope that we would find a rhythm, take turns, perhaps?” Eric replied, squeezing Alcide’s hand just a little tighter than he needed to.
What the fuck? Did he just make a pass at me? Alcide sent to her, panic evident in his mind. She suppressed a giggle.
Too easy, she heard Eric think. She coughed then, unable to stand straight-faced at the display before her.
“Uhhh, sure, I guess, whatever,” Alcide stumbled, taking his hand back from Eric and turning to Sookie. “Can we talk for a minute, Sookie, alone,” he added pointedly. Eric turned to Sookie.
“I’ll be over here,” he nodded at the table they had been using to briefing, smiling at her, more softly than he had all night, which still had a feeling of steely hardness in it. Again, she wanted to laugh. Oh, this is going to be too good, she thought as she nodded and turned back to Alcide. He waited until Eric had taken his seat again and then he leaned down close to her face, speaking low, as though that would stop their conversation from being overheard by big vampire ears.
Fearful that he might make mention of her telepathy she reminded him that they were not alone and to be careful of what he said. He opened his mouth and closed it again, sighing in frustration as he searched for words that would convey his thoughts and not give too much away. Business, she signaled to him. Stick to business. He actually growled at her then, his eyes lighting up a moment as his frustration boiled over.
“What’s the protocol here now?” he managed to grind out of his locked jaw.
“Eric and are now partners on the FauX investigation. You are my right hand, you are now his as well.” She could have sworn she saw his hair stand on end all over his body. He was literally shaking in fury and the need to explode.
“What are my orders?” She felt bad for him, she knew that there was no love lost between were and vampire on a good day, but to now have to answer to one was really pushing at Alcide’s limits. Still, he had always been a consummate professional. Something more was up here. She reached into his mind and found a snarly mass of red angry thoughts.
She is mine! Who is this fucker to come in here flashing fang and staking his claim in her, or fuck was it me that he was claiming? I was sure that she was about to give me a shot and then here comes this motherfucker!
She pulled back, overwhelmed. She had known he had a torch for her but this was much more than just that. He seemed to have genuine feelings for her and even if there were no vampire in the room that would be a huge problem. Looking around the room she noticed a conference room open and motioned for him to follow her. She closed the door behind them and turned to face the large angry wolf that was towering over her.
“Do we have a problem?” she asked him in her most authoritative tone.
“No!” he snapped back.
“You are the best number one any team leader could hope for and you have been an excellent partner to me the past five years. I will not let you sabotage your career over this.”
“What I do with my career is my business.”
“Not while you are part of my team. You are my responsibility and what you do is as much as my business as it is yours. I don’t wish to seem cold, but this, you and me, it’s not gonna happen, Alcide.” He slumped in front of her looking at the floor like she had just ripped the spine right out of him.
“It’s because of him, isn’t’ it?”
“No, and you must never think that it is. There are million reasons why I am not the girl for you, Alcide. You need to find yourself a nice bitch and have some pups. That is never going to be me.”
“I don’t care about any of that shit, Sookie and you know it! You know how I feel about you! You know this is not a passing thing for me.”
“Then I have done us both a disservice. I should have transferred you long before now.”
“WHAT? You would send me away because I lo-“
“STOP! You don’t even know me, Alcide. You don’t say those words to someone unless they can say them back!” He grabbed her shoulders then.
“Then say them back!” he was in her face then and she realized that this was bigger than she had ever let herself see. Fool, she chided herself. What did you think was going to happen on all the late night stake outs and danger foreplay? You may not be able to feel anything but you’re a fucking fool if you think the rest of the world is as numb and controlled as you are. You’ve made a real fucking mess here! You may not want him but this is a good man and good agent!
She brought her hands up to the sides of his face and channeled her light into them. Immediately, he relaxed, calming to her touch. “Alcide,” she said looking deeply into his eyes. “We are just friends. It’s all we’ve ever been. It’s all we’re ever gonna be, and you are ok with that.”
“Ok with that,” he echoed in a dreamy tone.
“If you want to transfer to a new team, I will sign off on the paperwork, but if you stay here you will accept this and be fine with it, and I will have your back and you will have mine and we will continue to do our jobs to our utmost just like we have for the past five years.”
“Just like we have for the past five years,” he repeated again.
“Think it over tonight and let me know what you decide. Thank you, Alcide, for being the best partner I could have ever hoped for.” She let her hands drop then, and he let her go stepping back, shaking his head.
“You did something fairy to me didn’t you?” he asked her in a calmer tone.
“Yes, I calmed you, and prepared your mind to accept the truths that your rage could not hear.” He nodded then.
“I will think it over.” He left the room then. She lingered a moment to gather herself before joining Eric back in the main room.
Eric stood as she approached and held out an envelope. “Surveillance photos from Crème.” She opened it and flipped through them quickly while he looked down over her shoulder. She found one grainy photo of the woman that had eluded her last night. Motioning Alcide over, she told him to get copies of this photo to Amelia, their team witch, to try a locator spell.
“It’s a long shot,” she said turning back to Eric, “But it might be the best one we have right now.” As one they moved the room where Lafayette had been held since last night. They entered and sat down across from their suspect. Since he was Eric’s collar she let him lead.
“Mr. Reynolds, you are being held as a suspected V user and seller. We have some questions for you.”
“A’ight,” he said leaning forward. It was obvious that he was scared, but he was holding it together pretty well. He took a long hard look at Sookie and she let herself slide into his thoughts to see what she could pick up that might expedite the questioning. At least half of the interrogation process was knowing what questions to ask.
She sho had me fooled!
“Do you know this woman?” Eric asked, flipping the grainy photo of the were across the table. Sookie heard his thoughts suddenly tumble and trip. He thought yes, and then no and then it all went static, like a radio station with dead air. Was that from Eric, glamouring calm last night or something else?
“Naw,” he hesitated. “I…I don’t think I know her.”
“What do you mean?” Eric pressed him, his face turning scary cold.
“Look, I’ll tells ya’ll whatever it is I knows to get the fuck up outta here, but I don’t…I don’t think I know her.” Eric leaned back and sat there a moment, staring Lafayette down. The suspect started to shake, I probably would too, if he looked at me like, Sookie thought.
Eric suddenly moved and grabbed a pen, scribbling a note to Sookie. Glamoured? She nodded in agreement, pleased that he was so quick and that she would be able to keep her secret a bit longer.
“How long have you been using and dealing V?” Lafayette’s eyes widened and he raised one arm in front of himself, rubbing his hand along his other arm, unconsciously calming himself before he answered.
“Umm, ‘bout six months now.”
“Who is your usual source?”
“Pam,” he said dropping his eyes at giving up his boss, the owner of Crème.
“Does she give you’re her own blood, or the blood of others.”
“Both, I think.”
“How did this start?”
“We was closing up one night and she wanted to gets her party on. She told me dat it would ‘enhance the experience’,” he said doing more than a passible impression of Pamela Ravenscroft. “So, I called up some of my friends and we partied.” He swallowed and brought his gaze back to Eric’s. “We did dat a few times and den one night she told me dat she wanted me to sell V for her.”
“Why?” Eric pressed him again, leaning in now, really pissed that a vampire would behave in such a manner.
“Alls I know is dat she seemed to need de money it brought in”
“How do you know that?”
“Cause she kepts giving me mo’, tellin’ me I gots to move it faster. Dat an she kept raisin’ the price.” He broke then, tears rolling down his cheeks. “Lookahere, ya’ll gotta protects me from her! She be one scary bitch!” Sookie saw in his mind that Pam had threatened him on more than one occasion and that she had also bitten him for not moving the V as fast as she wanted.
Fuck, I should have been paying more attention to what was going on, she berated herself. Right behind that though she realized that even if she had known she wasn’t sure she would have done anything to jeopardize her investigation. Finding out who was behind FauX was more important than a ring of V dealers, but there now seemed to be a connection that she had missed.
“If you continue to cooperate we will protect you, Mr. Reynolds,” Eric soothed the suspect, attempting to calm him because he was working himself up into quite a state. Given what he was remembering Sookie could hardly blame him.
“Why didn’t you just leave, Mr. Reynolds?”
“Bitch made me take her blood, said she’d finds me iffin I tried to run.” Eric growled. Sookie looked at him sharply. So much for calming the suspect.
The blood is sacred! It’s bad enough to sell it but to force it on a human and make them a slave is unforgiveable! His thoughts were filled with such rage that Sookie found herself shaking from the force of them. Lafayette looked like he was ready to crawl under the table and hide. He knew it wasn’t safe out there, and now it was looking less and less safe in here. Sookie spoke for the first time since the interrogation had begun.
“How did you come to reach out to Mr. Northman, Lafayette?” She listened in and heard more static. He had been directed to Eric and then glamoured to forget!
“I-I don’t know. I remember dat I was sposed to meets him at Crème, and dat he was bringin’ V but the rest, fuck! I wanna helps, ya’ll gotta believes me!”
“We believe you, Lafayette,” she soothed him with her words and smiled at him, and he seemed to settle back down a little. Standing, Sookie motioned for Eric to follow her out of the room.
When they got outside he was still furious, his face a beautiful nightmare to behold. She laid a hand on his arm, and he stared down at it, before bringing his gaze up to hers. Together they spoke.
“We need to find Pamela Ravenscroft.”
“Jinx! Buy me a coke!” Sookie said hurriedly, smiling at their synchronous thoughts and words.
“Buy you a coke?” Eric asked, now much less tense himself.
“When two people say the same thing at the same time the first one to call ‘Jinx” gets to tell the other one what they want.”
“And you want a Coke?” he asked, his eyes alight with teasing and something else.
I’d give you anything you wanted.
She gulped at hearing his hot intimate thoughts, feeling a little like she has wasted an opportunity to ask for something much, much better than Coke.
“Yes,” she said, “I want a Coke.”
“Then a Coke you shall have, as soon as we find Pamela Ravenscroft.”
“Right,” Sookie agreed, shifting her thoughts back to the business at hand. “Did you take her into custody last night?”
“No, I questioned her after taking custody of Mr. Reynolds. She swore that she knew nothing about him selling V and that would cooperate in any way she could. She was anxious to know when she could reopen Crème, and I gave her leave to do that tonight.”
“Still, it is doubtful that we will find her there. She had to suspect that Lafayette would crack, and she no doubt has been tracking his emotion in their blood tie.”
“You understand how blood ties work, Agent Stackhouse?”
“Of course, basic SIN training.”
“Of course,” he repeated, as if really seeing the SIN agent in from of him for the first time, rather than the mostly naked Sookie that he had found on the stage of Crème the night before.
Before leaving she asked Alcide to contact Amelia about a locator spell on Pamela Ravenscroft as well, just in case. When they stepped outside Eric stepped up behind her, his arms coming around her, pulling her close.
“Umm, what are you-?”
“With your permission, I will fly us to Crème?” He can fly? Holy S! Not even thinking about it she pressed back into him and rested her hands on his arms around her waist.
“Go for it!” He chuckled at her exuberance and then blasted into the sky. She laughed in his arms and held on tightly as they flew above Dallas. “This is freaking awesome!” she called back to him, and to show off he sped up a little. She let herself listen to him as they flew.
So good, she feels amazing in my arms. I love her laugh. I would love to show her the world like this and listen to her laugh over Paris, Madrid, London. We could perch atop Big Ben and swap the secrets of our hearts.
She melted into his large frame, warmed by his thoughts, lost in the images he was thinking. When the landed at Crème she was disappointed, rather than exhilarated as she usually was when hunting a suspect. She stepped slowly from his arms and turned to face him.
“Thank you, Eric,” she said softly.
“’Twas just a little flying, Sookie,” he answered just as quietly.
“It was more than that, Cowboy.”
“You’re never going to let me live down that Stetson, are you?” His hand came up to her cheek then and she turned into to, closing her eyes, feeling him touch her as she recalled his thoughts during their flight.
Not the time Northman! She heard him think, and that broke the spell. They had a mission here and she needed to get her shit together and focus, goddamnit! Sighing, she stepped back at the same time he dropped his hand.
“We need to get going-“ they said at the same time again. This time it was Eric who called it.
“Jinx, I want to pick this up later.” Yep, and she asked for a Coke. Yer such a dumbass, Stackhouse, she told herself.
“Then we shall pick this up later, after we find Pamela Ravenscroft,” she said, echoing him from earlier.
Crème was open and business was in full swing but Pamela had not been in tonight and was not expected. Sookie read the bartender’s mind and found that she had called and said she was taking a few days off, and he was in charge. Sookie had never liked Chow very much. It wasn’t that he was a vampire, she didn’t mind those so much and less and less with every passing moment. The problem with Chow was that he was a dick.
“You’re late, Sookie. Get your ass backstage and get up there. The crowd has been asking for you.” He glanced at Eric beside her and his lip turned up in derision. “You know that you aren’t supposed to bring the ones you fuck to work with you. Puts off the customers. Get rid of him, now!”
Apparently, Pam had left out some details about what had gone down at Crème last night if this asshole thought she was still working here and didn’t know that Eric was VBI. She was about to open her mouth when she heard something click in Chow’s mind.
Oh, fuck! That’s the Northman that Pam told Lafayette to get in here! I thought that shit went down last night! Goddamn it, Lafayette didn’t show tonight and Pam is not here! She wanted him for the witch! What the fuck do I do now? He was reaching for a silver chain beneath the bar when Sookie pulled her gun full of silver bullets and shoved it into Chow’s face.
“SIN, stop right there, asshole. You’re to be detained for questioning!” Chow, not taking her seriously kept reaching for the chain to try and capture Eric. Sookie’s head was reeling as the pieces came together.
Pam and the were had lured Eric here, knowing who he was because they planned to take him last night! It was only the fact that Sookie had been made and Eric’s bust had gone awry that had saved him from possibly being abducted!
Fuck, her brain screamed, how did I not consider her arriving AFTER him could mean that she was tailing him? FUCK!
At that moment Chow came up with the chain and Sookie shot him in the face, dropping him behind the bar like a sack of potatoes. For the second night in a row the patrons stampeded for the door, running from the gunfire and the crazy display of giant vampire that followed right after when Eric vamped over the bar and grabbed Chow by the neck.
When the bar emptied of patrons and all employees except for Chow, they drug him out to the middle of the floor and used his chain to secure him to a chair. He was healing slowly from the wound in his head, and not a happy camper to find additional silver restraining him.
Furious at herself and at the vampire who had tried to hurt her partner she turned to Chow with a rage that Eric found impressive and titillating. Is that what I look like when I lose my shit?
“You’re going to tell me what you know about FauX, Chow, or you die here, tonight!” Not fully recovered enough to have his wits about him he immediately started to spill what little he knew.
“Pam handles all that, we are partners in the bar only, and she deals with the witch.”
“WHAT’S HER FUCKING NAME?” Sookie screamed into his face. T he silver bullet back had started to work its way out of his head, so she took her finger and shoved it back in, hard. Chows screams rattled the windows.
“HALLOW! THEY CALL HER HALLOW!” he was writhing in the chair now, trying to get away from Sookie and her finger of doom that was hell bent on making that silver a permanent fixture in his brain matter.
“WHAT DOES THE WITCH HAVE TO DO WITH FAUX?”
“SHE MAKES IT! SHE MAKES THE STUFF, FUCK!” He screamed again, but this only made Sookie angrier.
“WHY DID THEY WANT ERIC? TELL ME NOW OR YOU’RE NOT WALKING OUT OF HERE!”
“I DON’T KNOW, I SWEAR I DON’T KNOW! THEY JUST NEEDED HIM! SET HIM UP TO COME HERE. THEY WERE GONNA TAKE HIM BUT FUCKING PAM AND LAFAYETTE DIDN’T SHOW UP TONIGHT! I JUST KNOW THEY WANTED HIM!! PLEASE, PLEASE STOP!”
“WHERE IS PAMELA NOW?”
“I DON’T FUCKING KNOW! I SWEAR! I DON’T FUCKING KNOW!”
Sookie was totally out of control now, lost in her rage at herself for missing all this for the month that she had been here, for not making the connections before, for what had almost happened to her partner last night and tonight. She expected more from herself than this, her failure was unacceptable. She was just coming in to kill Chow when Eric’s arms closed around her from behind.
“Sookie,” he said softly into her ear. She pulled against him, fighting to get free to finish venting on the now helpless Chow before her. “Sookie!” He said again, shaking her as he had seen Alcide do the night before, wondering briefly what the real source of her rage was about. She seemed a seething volcano that once unleashed would go completely out of control.
He felt her calm in his arms and heard her take a few shuddering breaths. “Let. Me. Go!”
“When you calm down, I will release you, Sookie.”
“I am fucking calm, Eric.” He chuckled but loosened his grip. She turned to him, fire still in her eyes and her face as hard as stone. “Thank you,” was all she said before she turned and walked out the front door of Crème. Eric waited a moment, making sure that Chow was still secure before joining her. She was on the phone.
“Right, we have one for pick up at Crème. I want this fucking place shut down, permanently. No more V, no more FauX. Burn it to the ground and salt the earth. This fucking place is done.” She listened a moment more and then hung up turning to Eric.
“Alcide is on his way and we have a hit on both our locator spells.”
“Shreveport?” he guessed. She nodded tightly.
“As soon as Alcide arrives we headed there.”
“Agreed and that leaves us just enough time.”
“Just enough time to for what?” she snapped at him.
“For you to explain how you knew he planned to use that silver on me, and that the witch had come here for me last night.”