The rest of Sookie’s shift passed without incident. Many new patrons had rolled in after the incident with Royce and his cohorts; they’d all heard about the ‘vampire attack’ at Merlotte’s and they wanted an accounting from those that had actually witnessed it. The foolish humans failed to realize that the vampire in question was still present. Eric chuckled when the humans shrank back in fear from him; however, he did not appreciate their treatment of Sookie. Despite the crowded conditions inside Merlotte’s, her section was virtually deserted. The only ones in the section were those crowded close to Eric, vying for his attention, doing whatever they thought would gain his favor. Little did they know that the only favor he wanted was that of the blonde barmaid studiously trying to avoid him.
Sookie flitted around the room like a hummingbird going from flower to flower. She was doing everything she could to make certain the fruits of her labor were profitable, but Eric could sense the growing despondency growing inside her. The ancient vampire had little respect for humans as it was, merely considering them as a necessary evil for his continued existence, but the humans inside the Shifter’s bar were among the worst he had ever encountered in his millennium of existence. Eric has seen oppression, bigotry, prejudice, racism, and every other form of discrimination in his long existence. Yet all of that pales in comparison to the way the people of Bon Temps ostracize Sookie. Some treat her as if she is invisible; others openly criticize her for all to hear. The worst ones in Eric’s opinion are the ones that seem to be fully aware of Sookie’s hidden talent, the ones that use her telepathy to attack her behind the scenes. Eric’s fangs itch with the urge to drain every last one of the pathetic humans in the termite-infested dump that passes for a bar.
“You wanna kill ‘em all dontcha?” Lafayette slides into the chair closest to Eric, the wooden legs screeching across the floor. He gives the vampire a knowing look as he fills a shot glass with tequila and then brings it to his lips to sip slowly. Lafayette gives a satisfied sigh as he sets the glass back on the table.
“Why does Sookie put up with this? She’s better than all of them.” Eric is beyond frustrated as he looks contemptuously around the bar. He sneers at the table of women that have tried to gain his attention. Instead of cowering in fear, they women giggle and blush like a bunch of schoolgirls.
Lafayette cocks an eyebrow at Eric before picking up his drink and downing the rest of the contents. As he pours another drink, Lafayette responds to Eric’s question with one of his own. “Where she gonna go? Where any us gots ta go? We’s all gots our reasons for bein’ here,” he mutters before slamming back the second drink.
“What’s your reason?” Eric is genuinely curious about the openly gay man sitting before him. If Sookie views him as a friend, then there must be something about Lafayette that makes him different from all the rest, and it isn’t his sexual orientation.
“Like Sookie, Iz gots family responsibilities here, and as much as I may want to, I ain’t gonna turn my back on what little family Iz gots left,” Lafayette answers resolutely as he pours another drink.
Eric nods his head, understanding all too well about family obligations. Just because he is now a vampire doesn’t mean he has no familial obligations or loyalty. “Neither of you need to work here.”
Lafayette scoffs as he picks up his drink. Before he brings the clear liquid to his lips, he answers Eric’s unspoken question. “Boss man, I don’t know if you knows, but they ain’t that many jobs round here. Yous take whatcha can git. Iz work here and on the road crew as well as bein’ an entrepreneur. The only reason Iz got the road crew job was cuz a Jason since he useta be the foreman. What with him leavin’ and that fucked up Drew Marshall / Rene Lenier bitch no longer part of the crew, you’da thought they’d make me foreman since Iz got the most seniority. Hells no!” Lafayette swallows his drink before slamming the glass down on the table. “Theys made some pissant teenager foreman cuz he’s the nephew of the sheriff. Fuckin’ A!”
“Clearly they do not value your talents,” Eric offers drolly before his tone turns serious. “However, none of that answers my questions, Lafayette,” Eric says in exasperation. He flings his arm out to indicate his surroundings. “Why does she stay? Why does anyone with half a brain stay in this mosquito infested swamp?”
“Fear and obligation,” Lafayette answers immediately before sipping his drink. “Those thats can leave are scared a the big bad world outside a Bon Temps. And those of us whos ain’t scared, well, we’ve gots obligations to drag us down.” Lafayette stares dolefully at his drink before slamming the rest of it back.
As he refills the glass, he stares beseechingly at Eric. “Don’t you think I’d love to gets up outta here? Clearly my fabulousness is wasted on the likes a thems,” Lafayette says with a wink and a flirtatious wave of his hand at a table full of men drinking across the room. The men, who were staring at what they deem “the fag and the vamp”, sneer at Lafayette before turning to avoid him and the penetrating gaze of his vampire companion.
Lafayette scoffs contemptuously. “Ain’t thats a bitch? Them muthafuckers act likes I’m the anti-Christ yet e’ery single one a them bitches be hittin’ me up for whats I gots to sell.”
Eric smirks as he folds his hands and leans closer to Lafayette. “So you’re an entrepreneur too? What exactly is it that you have to sell?”
Lafayette winks at Eric before sipping his newly replenished drink. “Honey chile, whats I got you cans haves fo free!”
“LAFAYETTE!” Sookie’s shriek comes from the kitchen after the sound of stainless steel and glass hit the floor.
“Ooops. Musta thought that one a little too loud,” he says with another conspiratorial wink at Eric which makes the vampire smirk again. There are not many humans that Eric enjoys spending time with; truth be told, there are none, and there are only a handful of Supes that he chooses to interact with outside of a working relationship. However, Eric likes the openly gay man sitting beside him. He appreciates that Lafayette is completely comfortable inside of his skin and isn’t willing to change to fit in with those around him. Eric has never appreciated the need for uniformity; he understands that everyone has differences. Throughout history Eric has seen that those who are different are the ones who are able to adapt and survive.
Lafayette has what it would take to make an excellent vampire. Pity Eric isn’t in the market to make himself a new child. He imagines that Lafayette would embrace being a vampire; really sink his teeth into it.
But that doesn’t mean Eric can’t do something to enhance Lafayette’s current situation. “Tell me, Lafayette, would you be interested in changing your current employment status?”
Lafayette snaps his head to the side to stare at Eric. “That depends on whats ya gots in mind. I ain’t really interested in workin’ at Fangtasia. Not that I mind vamps,” he hastens to add. “But I don’t wanna be y’alls personal drinkin’ fountain. No offense.”
“None taken,” Eric replies nonchalantly. “And to be clear, none of my employees are expected to supply any vampire with blood. It is their choice, though many do find the experience enjoyable. However, I do not want to hire you for Fangtasia. Your talents would be wasted on the vermin. I was thinking of something a little more personal, much more intimate.”
“Oh hells no! Yous be sex on a stick and I’d loves nuttin’ more than to let you be ma suga daddy, but Sook would kills us both. And I’m much too fabulous to die young,” Lafayette responds dramatically as he shakes his head in vehement denial.
A smile of genuine amusement spreads across Eric’s face before it gives way to quiet chuckling. It removes the hardness that a thousand years of experience have put there; he looks carefree and happy. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear he was human. Several of the human patrons in the bar notice the change in Eric’s appearance, and it only enhances their desire for him.
Of course, they aren’t the only ones that notice the change in Eric’s appearance. From her place in the kitchen, Sookie can see Eric with his head thrown back in laughter. It makes her heart clench to see him. She’s missed him, plain and simple. Eric was like a tornado; he’d swept into her life unannounced, causing total chaos and upheaval and then he’d disappeared just as quickly, leaving her reeling as she tried to adapt to all the changes in her life. Sookie had gone from being a simple country girl with an ability that was looked down upon by those around her to a fairy princess that was being protected as if she were more valuable than the Hope Diamond. It made her head spin just thinking about it! And the one person she had wanted to talk to the most about everything, the person that she’d wanted to make her feel better about everything had shunned her.
To say it hurt is an understatement.
Of course, Sookie could talk to Barry about everything, and she had, but he couldn’t really understand everything she was going through. Barry had known about his place in the Supernatural world from a young age. His uncle had helped guide him along the way. So Barry couldn’t really relate to her feelings of being overwhelmed and needing reassurance that everything would work out. He was a good boyfriend and tried to bolster her spirits, but it didn’t work bless his heart.
As for the others in her life, Sookie had spent time talking with all of them. Even Thalia had lent her perspective on Sookie’s situation, though her outlook had been more bloodthirsty than most. Thalia had told Sookie bluntly that she was a tasty bloodbag that needed all the protection she could get, and she’d be lucky to survive the Supe world. Thalia had told Sookie she was too wholesome and naive to survive amongst Supes; she’d be chewed up and spit out in no time.
Not exactly the sentiment Sookie had wanted to hear. As if she wasn’t terrified enough about her changing status in the world. On the outside she may project that she is calm and collected. After all she has to be! If she were freaking out about everything, then there is no way Gran and especially Jason would have agreed to all the changes in their lives.
Granted all of those changes have drastically improved their lives. The Stackhouse homestead on Hummingbird Lane looks better than it ever did thanks to Eric’s generosity. Gran isn’t one to rub other people’s noses in her good fortune, but she is certainly enjoying the comforts that being under Eric’s protection have provided her. As for Jason, he has a new job working for Herveaux and Son Construction. His home had been upgraded and modernized just like Gran’s, and he’d finally met the love of his life.
A black, Ford F-150 Extended Cab edition pickup truck with all the bells and whistles the dealership offered. Jason had then customized the vehicle with tires that Sookie swears are taller than her. Jason had completed the trucks look with red, orange, and yellow flames down the sides and across the hood. Jason calls the truck ‘Jessica’, saying she’s a “smokin’ hot redhead”.
If you ask Sookie, it’s merely another sign that he was dropped on his head one too many times as a baby. Jason treats his truck with far more care and concern then he’s ever treated a woman.
Sookie remembers Jason telling one of his would-be hook ups that she’d have to ride in the bed of his truck back to his place because he didn’t want her to scratch his leather or stink up the interior with her cheap perfume.
Jason had been extremely surprised when the girl had slapped him not once but twice. In Sookie’s opinion, he’s lucky she hadn’t hit him south of the equator so to speak.
Sookie shakes her head to bring her back to the present, Sookie looks through the kitchen hatch again to see Eric and Lafayette embroiled in a deep conversation. Whatever Eric is saying has Lafayette excited. Her friend is practically quivering in his seat! Of course with Lafayette you never know what’s got him excited. It could be a sale on his favorite purple eyeshadow or it could be that he’d won Powerball. As for Eric…
Sookie sighs and shakes her head again. She can’t avoid him any longer. It’s time to face whatever it is that’s brought him back in her life. But this time she’s smarter; she won’t be so easily swayed by his words.
Or his pretty face.
And definitely not that award-winning butt of his.
“Get it together, Stackhouse,” Sookie whispers to herself. She straightens her posture, tugs on her ponytail to make sure it is tight against her head, and walks briskly back out to the main floor of the restaurant.
“You two look awfully cozy,” Sookie says with sass as she stops next to Lafayette. She raises an eyebrow at Eric, daring him to say a word. Gone is the carefree man of a moment ago; in his place is the stony face of a vampire that shows no emotion. Sookie fights the urge to shift nervously under such an impassive stare. Two can play this game.
Lafayette sighs before pushing his chair back and standing beside Sookie. “Hookah sheathe dem claws of yers. Yer man and me, we be dun discussin’ bizness.” Lafayette downs his last shot before waving his fingers in farewell. “Iz be seein’ ya next week boss man.”
Eric nods his head though his eyes twinkle with mischief. “Looking forward to it, Lafayette. Tonight has certainly been . . . interesting to say the least,” Eric replies drolly.
Lafayette curtsies towards Eric before giving a very confused Sookie a hug farewell. Lafayette walks towards the exit of the bar. When he is standing in front of the door, he spins around on his heel. “Can Iz haves all y’alls attention for a moment?” Lafayette shouts so that his voice is heard above the music and conversations taking place in the bar. Once every pair of eyes is fixed on Lafayette, he inhales deeply and closes his eyes. As he exhales, he opens his eyes.
“Iz known most of y’all all my life. Most of y’all have treated me like Imma worthless piece of shit. Ya judge me for how I live my life, thinkin’ y’all be better den me. Just remember, e’erybody gots secrets and some of y’all gots secrets that I knows ‘bout,” Lafayette says in a threatening tone of voice. Voices in the bar begin to murmur and people begin shuffling uncomfortably. Some even make a move towards Lafayette, thinking they will silence him. He holds up his hand to stop them. “Dontcha even think about tryin’ to shut me up! For too long Iz held all this in. This is my moment to say what I want!”
Lafayette looks around the bar, his eyes holding nothing but contempt for the patrons inside Merlotte’s. “Fuck all y’all! I quit this bitch!” Spinning once again on his heel, Lafayette pushes open the door of the bar and strides out. A car engine roaring to light is followed by the sound of screeching tires out of the parking lot.
The stunned patrons of Merlotte’s look at each other before conversation erupts at a near deafening level. Eric rises from his seat, chuckling again at the antics of his new employee. Sookie glares at Eric, refusing to budge from the spot she is standing in. “What did you say to him?!?!”
“I gave him a way to improve his life,” Eric replied simply. “Shall we go? There are things we need to discuss still, and I think the people here have had enough of a show for the evening.” He gestures for Sookie to proceed him. “After you, Miss Stackhouse.”