The Truth Behind the Rose
Susie knew from Jason’s mind that her aunt had left, so she softly said, “Thalia,” knowing her vampire would be there immediately. She didn’t disappoint. “Why’d she do that?” Susie asked her quietly. She knew from her daddy’s thoughts that he didn’t have any answers.
“Your aunt is a vampire, and a young one at that,” Thalia replied, trying to explain it the best way she could. It didn’t help that she didn’t have a clue as to why Sookie had reacted in such a way. She had seen the young vampire challenged before. Thalia had been at Fangtasia the night Pam had challenged her, and despite the century between them, it had been Sookie who had kept her cool and Pam who had lost hers.
“She’s never lost it in front of Susie before, though,” Jason replied. “Even with Claudine, she was always focused on Susie.”
“I can’t tell you why she lost it,” Thalia said truthfully.” I haven’t known your sister very long. My encounters with her before she was turned were limited. Since she’s been back, she has shown incredible restraint for someone so young. I simply do not know.”
Susie rested her cheek on Jason’s shoulder, hugging him tightly. “Are all vampires like that? Is that why you wanted me away from them?”
“No, Pumpkin,” Jason said, rubbing his hand over her back. “Eric isn’t and neither is Nora. Neither is your lovely Ms. Thalia.”
Thalia looked to Jason, shaking her head. “How many young vampires have you been around?” she asked him.
“Two,” he replied. “Jess and now Sookie.”
“Many young vampires are like that, Jason,” she told him. Susie breathed out shakily.
“That wasn’t normal for Sookie,” Jason argued. “I know she’s young and a vampire, but she drained a full fairy and barely batted an eyelash. Eric told me he couldn’t do that. That was something different.”
“Jason, can we speak alone?” Russell asked him, suddenly before the three.
Jason jumped at Russell’s sudden appearance. “Jesus, do ya’ll have to do that? Ya almost gave me a heart attack!” he mumbled. “Susie, Pumpkin, will ya stay with Ms. Thalia while I speak to Mister Russell?”
“Yes we do,” Russell answered once Thalia had picked up Susie and taken her outside.
Jason’s eyes followed his daughter until she was out of sight before turning his attention back to Russell. “What did ya want?” he asked, in no mood to beat around the bush.
“It’s not what I want; it’s what your sister wants,” Russell replied sitting down. He looked over his child’s brother. Despite the years he had aged, Jason still looked delicious. He was fit, rugged, and generally appealing for those who liked handsome middle-aged men. For Russell, since he liked all handsome men Jason was plenty appealing, but now was not the time.
“Sook? What does she want? Is she okay?” Jason asked, firing the questions quickly, his anger at his sister from moments before diminishing with the thought that she might be hurt.
“She asked me to come and explain to you what happened, why she lost control.”
“So I was right; that isn’t normal for her?” Jason replied. “So, why did she?”
“When your sister was first given to me, I had in my employ a Were bitch named Debbie Pelt,” Russell paused to see if there was any spark of recognition.
“That the same Debbie that woman was talkin‘ about?” Jason asked. The name sounded vaguely familiar, and he thought he might have heard it before tonight. He just wasn’t sure when and where.
“Your sister took great pleasure in destroying Debbie as Debbie had done her best to break Sookie. Debbie is the reason your sister was made a vampire,” Russell took a breath, still feeling guilt over the situation. If only he hadn’t been blocking the bond with Sookie he would have been able to monitor her and known something was happening much sooner. “When I left to obtain a present for your sister, Debbie took advantage by taking your sister, raping her, selling her body, and abusing her until she was but a shell of herself. It took a long time; many years for me to help build your sister to her current abilities. She is the strongest vampire I know, but no survivor can control their responses every moment.”
Jason felt a white-hot anger spread through him as he learned of what Debbie had done to Sookie. He couldn’t believe someone could be as cruel and vindictive as the Were bitch. Jason swore if that bitch had still been alive, he’d have tracked her down and killed her himself. “That’s why she lost it, innit?” he said, putting the pieces together. “That bitch said her name, and it triggered it…” A tear trickled down his cheek as he thought of the horrors his sister endured at the hands of the Were. Despite what some people thought Jason wasn’t stupid, and he knew Russell had hurt her as well at some point, but one look at the ancient vampire told Jason he was sorrier than he could ever say. He could see it in his eyes, the guilt, the pain, and the remorse. “Wait… Was this Debbie Alcide’s old bitch?”
“Yes, she was,” Russell confirmed. “Not everything Sookie does is excusable. You cannot treat her differently because of this, Jason,” he instructed. “Earlier today she lost control, completely unrelated, and she and I will have words over it, but what happened in that room,” he indicated, “is justifiable. She truly could not help responding to the attack.”
Jason nodded, letting Russell’s words sink in. He knew Sookie’s actions weren’t normal, even if she was a vampire now. “Fuckin’ Weres,” he grumbled, thinking about the times he had seen Alcide after Sookie had been kidnapped. The man had likened Debbie’s sudden disappearance to Sookie’s, going so far as to mourn them with Jason on the first anniversary of their disappearances.
“They have their uses, but our Sookie will be less than tolerant of their bullshit than any other species for the time being.”
“Gotcha,” Jason replied. Jason frowned as he looked at Russell. From everything he had heard about the ancient vampire, he was expecting the devil with a southern accent, but he was pleasantly surprised to discover he was wrong. “You care for my sister,” he worded it as a statement, not a question. “You look after her… when she lets you. That’s good.”
“I fear my place is being overtaken,” Russell replied, looking out the window at Eric, his arm around Sookie, helping with her coordination. Looking out the window, Jason smiled at the couple. Although he may never have said it aloud, Jason knew long before her return that Eric was in love with his sister. “Regardless, I wanted to ensure you had an understanding,” the vampire explained.
“We do,” Jason nodded. Turning to face Russell, Jason squared his shoulders as he stared at the one everyone believed to be an insane vampire. “For the record… Sook; she’s got a big heart, and when she loves you like you’re family, she don’t ever forget that.”
“She has a temper, but she’s also quick to understand loyalty, regret, and forgiveness,” Russell added.
“She always did, even when she shouldn’t,” Jason said rather gloomily, thinking of all the times Sookie had forgiven Bill.
“Who would you prefer speak with Susie about this? Sookie, I’m sure, is worried that her niece will fear her,” Russell speculated as he continued looking out the window. “You, Sookie, Roman, Eric, or I could speak with her, or any combination of us. We could also inform Thalia, if you prefer.”
“Eric or Roman will be best,” Jason said after a minute’s thought. “My baby girl will be able to feel my anger in her head, and she might think it’s directed at Sookie. She knows Eric… She trusts him.”
“Why not the both of them?” Russell asked, knowing Roman was planning on working closely with the young girl and this could help establish trust.
“Okay,” Jason agreed, knowing Susie was beginning to like the other vampire.
Russell caught Eric’s eye, and nodding slightly. He watched as the vampire led Sookie to Nora’s side where Molly had just left to find a donor.
“Let’s find somewhere to talk private like,” Jason suggested. If he could help it, no one was over hearing this…
Eric had called Thalia over, and, taking Susie from her, led Roman back to Jason. With a nod to Roman, Russell and Thalia took over coordinating everyone while Jason, at Eric’s suggestion, led them all to his and Susie’s room.
With Susie occupied by Eric, Roman, and Jason, Nora led Sookie through the house to her room to get showered and changed.
“I know your Aunt Sookie scared you, Susie,” Eric started once they had all settled. Susie was on her father’s lap, Eric beside her, and Roman was seated opposite them. While they tried to skirt around the information, Susie figured it out, but only in as much detail as Russell told her daddy. She wasn’t able to comprehend it all, but she could sense how upset they were over the events, especially Uncle Eric and Daddy. Her fear, just like theirs, morphed mostly into a defensive mindset. Despite what Thalia had told her, she knew her aunt wouldn’t have reacted like that!
“It was like her mind switched off when that woman said that name,” Susie told them. She looked up at Roman. “She told me off for bein’ in her mind, but I stayed ‘cause I knew it was the right thing. Daddy, don’t be mad!” She glanced quickly back at Jason.
“Baby, we’ve talked ‘bout this,” Jason said, his tone firm, not fierce. “You may think its right, but that doesn’t mean it is. Your Aunt Sookie told you to get outta her mind for a reason and you ignored her.”
“Okay, but as soon as that Were mentioned Debbie, it was like her mind turned off. She didn’t hear or see anythin’,” Susie explained.
“That’s cause Debbie hurt ya Aunt Sookie bad,” Jason said. “Remember ya last birthday when ya got frightened when ya saw that clown? Every time ya saw one ya burst into tears and ran away. Well, Debbie is ya Aunt Sookie’s clown.”
“I know, Daddy,” Susie nodded. “I might still be scared of her though. How can I make sure I don’t do anything that’ll get her lookin’ at me like that?”
“Pumpkin, there’s nothin‘ ya could do that’ll ever make Sook look at ya like that,” Jason said, trying to reassure her. “She loves ya.”
“Are you sure?” she questioned, looking at Roman.
“She won’t,” Roman reassured her. “Regardless, I’ll keep you safe, Susie,” he added.
“We all will,” Jason said firmly. “No one will hurt my Pumpkin.”
“I can’t believe I lost control like that,” Sookie told Nora.
“It happens to us all,” Nora replied, trying to soothe Sookie’s hurt. “We’ve all lost it. You’re quite restrained for a baby vamp.”
“That’s not it,” she said, looking at Eric’s sister.
“Then what is it?” Nora asked softly as she perched on the arm of a chair.
“I have control, always, other than earlier, but I mean, even with fairy blood I’m not usually affected. This…it was as though she said that name and there was nothing else . . .”
Nora nodded, understanding exactly what she meant. “Sounds as if it’s a trigger of some sort,” she said, voicing her thoughts. “I’ve seen it before, back before I was turned. It’s as if the name causes tunnel vision. The Were bitch was all you could see; only I don’t think you were seeing her, right?”
Sookie wordlessly shook her head. “It was like I was back there,” she murmured.
“You felt helpless and at their mercy again,” Nora said, her tone equally as low. The sights and sounds around you disappeared and in their place, you could smell the scents of that room. You could feel the phantom touches of those ghosts.”
“I… I can’t, Nora!” Sookie cried looking at her as her eyes welled with bloody tears.
“You can, Sookie, you did!” Nora said firmly. “You survived, Sookie. You, not them! They’re just memories now. No one missed them like your family and friends did you. No one searched for them. They’re nothing, no one’s. You’re stronger than all of them combined.”
“What if I had reacted like that to someone else? Eric or Jase, or Susie?”
“I can’t say for certain that you won’t,” Nora replied truthfully, knowing Sookie needed someone to tell her the truth, not what they thought she might want to hear or believed could protect her. “All vampires are predators at heart, however; do you remember the night you were cured, the night you drained that fairy whore? You spoke of Weres that night, you drained a full-blooded fairy and revelled in it, but you kept your cool. You never saw us a threat or the enemy, and I don’t think you’ll ever see Jason or Susie as one.”
Sookie nodded slightly. “I just worry. I cannot imagine what it will be like without them.”
“That’s one of the good things about being turned post-Revelation. You don’t have to imagine,” Nora said with a small smile. “We are all here to make sure you never lose control or hurt anyone, so please don’t worry.”
“Did you leave anyone?” Sookie asked. “When Godric turned you?”
“No,” Nora answered with a shake of her head. “I was just a little waif whoring my way through life at the King’s court. All my family was gone, killed by The Plague. That would’ve been my fate if it hadn’t been for Godric. He saved me from death.”
“Sometimes I think back on it, and I can’t believe all the shit I’ve been dealt,” Sookie said, sounding morose.
“I think that’s natural,” Nora told her. “We all do it, but you can’t live in the past.”
Sookie sighed and nodded her head. “Do you think she’ll understand? Do you think she’ll forgive me?”
“It might take her a while to completely understand, but, yes, I think she will,” Nora replied. “Jason always said Susie was so much like you. She’s got a big heart full of love and forgiveness.”
Sookie nodded, having forgotten that Nora had known Susie longer. “Did you get to know her much?”
“A bit,” Nora nodded. “Michelle, or Claudine, was never a fan of the fang, and I could only really see Susie when she wasn’t about. I didn’t have much time due to running my Queendom, but I got to spend some time with her.”
“How young was she?” Sookie asked. She wished that she could have been around for all of those major events in her niece’s life.
“The first time I saw her, she was just a baby, around four months old,” Nora recalled fondly. “I thought Eric was insane when he told me he was visiting her and Jason, but he invited, actually forced, me along one time, and I’ll confess I fell a little in love with her that day. I had already given my protection to Jason by then so it was no trouble extending it to Susie as well.”
“I wish I could have been there. I’m just glad I didn’t miss everything.”
“You’ve still got loads of things to come,” Nora said. “She’ll be coming to her Aunt Sookie when she’s older for advice about boys, clothes, and sex!”
Sookie smiled slightly and sighed. “Her Aunt Nora too, I’d bet.”
“I hope so,” Nora admitted. “I never had a niece, and Pam doesn’t count as she’s a bitch.”
Sookie snorted. “Yeah, that she is, but isn’t she with an ally? Are they getting called back to fight Warlow?”
“Yeah, she’s with an ally, but she probably wishes she weren’t,” Nora smirked as she thought about Pam and the ally with whom she was ‘staying.’ “They’ll probably all be called in.”
“Great… So I’ll have to deal with her again. Don’t let her come around Susie or I swear, Nora, I don’t know that I’ll be able to stop myself,” Sookie warned.
“From what I have heard, I don’t think Pam will be much of a problem if she returns,” Nora assured her. “Nathaniel is teaching her the error of her ways, and I believe Eric will continue to let him do so even if she returns. Either way, Pam will not get near Susie. To the best of my knowledge she has never even set eyes on your niece.”
There was a soft knock on the door and the vampires could hear the slightly faster heartbeat of a younger human and a slower one indicating an older one. “Jason and Susie,” Nora said.
“Eric too,” Sookie added.
“Come in,” Nora called even as she pulled open the door.
Sookie watched as the door opened to reveal Eric standing beside Jason with Susie in his arms. “I’m sorry, Jase,” she said.
“I know ya’re, Sook,” Jason said softly. “Russell told me what happened, and I’m sorry too.”
Her eyes closed involuntarily as if she was in pain, but she had asked her Maker to do it. “Thank you for understanding.”
“No problem,” Jason said. Jostling Susie carefully, he gave his daughter a stern look, “Ain’t ya got something to say to your aunt?”
“I’m sorry that happened to you and I’m sorry I read your mind and I’m sorry I got scared,” Susie replied, looking at Sookie abashedly.
“You don’t have to apologize for being scared, Susie,” Sookie said softly. “It was a natural reaction, and, given the circumstances, the right one.”
“You didn’t do nothin’ that wasn’t a natural reaction,” she responded.
“Still scary though,” Sookie replied with a tight smile.
“Well, its okay, Aunt Sookie. You don’t have to be scared no more,” Susie hid her smile against Jason’s shoulder.
Sookie let out a soft laugh at Susie’s words. “I’ll try, baby, but I’m not as brave as you.”
Susie giggled, shaking her head at her aunt. “Do, um, do you still want me to stay out of your head? I saw somethin’ that could help.”
Sookie took a minute to think about it before smiling at her niece. “How about you give me twenty minutes to get cleaned up and then we’ll go over it?”
“Okay,” Susie replied, looking to her daddy to make sure that was okay.
Jason nodded at Susie, pleased that this time she had asked first. “It’s fine, Pumpkin.”
“Okay,” Susie repeated, snuggling further into Jason. It was late and she was getting tired, but she wanted to help.
“Twenty minutes,” Sookie repeated, moving toward the bathroom. “Then I’m all yours.” Jason carried Susie out, taking her to their room.
“Why don’t you lay down fer now, Suze?” he prompted. “When Sookie comes in, if yer still awake, we can talk.”
Susie nodded and climbed onto the big bed. Grabbing a soft blanket, she curled up in the middle of the bed and waited for her Aunt Sookie. By the time Sookie returned, she was asleep, obviously exhausted from the stressful night.
Sookie smiled at her sleeping niece. “Tell her I’ll come and see her when I rise tomorrow,” she whispered to Jason. Jason nodded while she slipped out. It had been a long night so far, and it wasn’t over for the vampires.
Sookie took an unneeded breath before walking into Nora’s office where Roman had set up shop. The room was in absolute chaos as vampires talked over one another and barked over various phones.
Molly was sitting on a seat, hugging her knees to her chest as she observed everything around her. Dieter was not only her Maker, he was her lover, and she just didn’t know where to start other than with revenge.
Seeing her Maker across the room, Sookie made her way to him and waited. She knew he was still angry with her, and rightfully so, but at that moment her place was beside him.
Russell appraised her through the bond, and softly told her, “I am happy you came to me to help with Jason.”
Sookie smiled softly. “You were there for me, you took care of me, and got me the help I needed,” she said. “I may love Eric, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need you.”
“Well, I knew that,” he teased. “I’m just making sure you did. Now what happened earlier?”
“I don’t know why the scent of the Fae blood affected me that way,” Sookie admitted, seeing no point of beating around the bush, pretending she had no idea of what Russell meant. “I’ve had fairy blood before, smelled it, but it’s never made me lose control. It was…” She paused as she considered it. “It was almost like he smelled richer, heavier.”
“What would have caused that?” Russell prompted her.
“I don’t know,” Sookie replied, frustration leaking through into her tone. “The moment his blood hit the air it was like a switch flipped on inside me. I was consumed by this burning desire for Eric as if nothing else mattered… Kinda like when Bill dosed me with his blood…”
“Maybe something related to vampire blood then? I could smell its temptation, but I hadn’t had any…had you tasted it?”
Sookie shook her head. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Did you bite any Fae? Even to kill them?”
“No,” Sookie replied firmly. She knew she hadn’t tasted any Fae that night. She had only had Eric’s blood that night.
“No blood spray?” he asked, trying to consider every angle.
“Maybe a little, but none that would cause me to lose control like that.”
“Could be just overwhelming. My experience with the Fae, the time in Ireland before you and then with you, could have prepared me. Even your Eric lost control… So many fairies bleeding in one area… Dieter was younger than Eric and Roman. Molly would have been killed if he hadn’t stepped in.”
“You think that’s what it was?” Sookie asked thoughtfully. “There was so much blood and violence… The park was saturated with it.”
“It’s possible,” Russell said, looking up as Fintan, returned to his natural appearance, stepped up to them.
“We need to confer, Sookie. What did you get from Hunter? I need to know he told you the same information he did me,” the fairy started.
“Not much,” Sookie admitted. “He wouldn’t really tell me anything. All I got from him was that he was torn and didn’t want to be there. He did warn me that the Danann were there, but by then I’d kinda guessed myself.”
“Did you get why he was torn?”
“Something to do with Warlow or what he gave him,” Sookie answered with a frown.
Fintan snorted, an odd sound from the fairy. “Yes, all the Danann and part-human pussy he wanted,” he shook his head.
A look of disgust flashed across Sookie’s face at the knowledge of what Hunter had been promised. “Guess he really is a teenage boy. What did you learn?”
“He was taken, initially, but enjoys it there. He’s treated well, though that’s mainly for his sperm I would conjecture. He is willing to spy for us, though, giving us information as he can,” Fintan informed them.
“That’s something I suppose,” Sookie nodded. “Anything else?”
“As you said, he didn’t like being bait, but he didn’t have a choice. You need to learn to push and dig more when mind reading, Sookie,” Fintan told her.
“I’ll get right on that,” Sookie replied with a frustrated sigh before apologizing for her little outburst. The night was getting to her and all she really wanted to do was curl up in Eric’s arms, but one look at Fintans’ face told her that probably wouldn’t happen anytime soon.