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27 September 2009 @ 10:30 pm
Enough for Now, ch. 9  
Title: Enough for Now
Fandom: Southern Vampire Mysteries
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: Everything through Dead and Gone is fair game!
Disclaimer: I wish they belonged to me.
Summary: As Eric and Sookie try and pick up the pieces, they find threats both within and without...
Author's note: Sorry for the lateness. School's back in session. :( Enjoy this one!

Story begins here: Chapter One

 

Chapter Nine

The game began in earnest two nights later. Pam, Eric and I were sequestered in a very large and very posh conference room in the Queen’s suite. The idea of having to aggressively represent Felipe’s interests in a negotiation made my skin crawl, but as Eric had pointed out we really didn’t have a choice. Not until we were had a plan to get out of it. So I found myself seated at the table on Eric’s left trying hard not to fidget and look as serious as possible. I was uncomfortable in the simple navy pencil skirt and crisp white blouse I was wearing. Pam had picked it out, thinking I needed to look more businesslike than my usual style would allow. I thought I looked like a spinster school marm; all I needed to complete the look were glasses and a bun. Pam, on the other hand, looked both businesslike and elegant in a pale pink dress that accentuated her curves without giving too much away. I shot her a glare as our hosts entered the room and took up positions across from us. She just smiled serenely back at me. Somehow I was going to find a way to get her back for this.

Eric, who was positively mouthwatering in an all black suit, stood to greet his opposing number and bring the meeting to order. I did a mental sweep of the room while the pleasantries were dispensed. There were four vampires – including Eric and Pam – and three humans other than myself. Two of them looked bored, but the other, a middle aged man of Italian descent, looked really, really nervous. His thoughts were running a mile a minute and I couldn’t pinpoint why he looked a like skittish colt. I mentally marked up down for a closer look later. Everything else seemed on the up and up, so far anyway. Eric glanced at me and I nodded.

“Let us begin, shall we?” Eric said formally. “We are here to negotiate restitution on behalf of His Majesty the King of Nevada, Louisiana and Arkansas for damage and carnage perpetrated by a member of Her Majesty the Queen of New York’s court.”

The Queen’s chief negotiator, Dylan Zug, interrupted. “Before we go any further with this sham of a negotiation, I demand to see proof of these allegations. Her Majesty takes umbrage to the notion that one of her subjects, least of all a member of her personal retinue, could be responsible for what the King of Nevada claims.”

Eric never flinched. He gestured to Pam, who produced a thick file folder from her new leather briefcase. She opened the folder and laid out a series of photographs that showed the damage Archibald Powell had caused in Las Vegas. Three hotel suites trashed, one craps table uprooted from the floor, and over thirty bruised and bloody corpses. I had to close my eyes and take a steadying breath as Pam laid out the pictures of Powell’s human victims. I’d seen more death in the last two years than anyone should see in one lifetime, but those pictures…I had to fight the urge to throw up. Eric felt my distress and laid a hand on my thigh under the table. He didn’t look at me, but I felt his calming influence through the bond and was glad for it.

I opened my eyes and saw the shock on Dylan Zug’s face. He clearly hadn’t been prepared for us to have proof. Still, he regrouped quickly. “There is still no evidence that Archibald was responsible for this. It could just as easily have been one of Felipe’s own subjects gone berserk,” Dylan said defensively.

Pam pulled out the last set of photos. They were security camera photos taken from each scene. “Las Vegas casinos are extraordinarily thorough in their security arrangements, Mr. Zug,” she said quietly.

Dylan nodded in defeat. “Now that we have established Mr. Powell’s guilt, let us discuss restitution,” Eric said, taking charge again.

“Her Majesty is willing to pay for the physical damage to Mr. De Castro’s property and make a small contribution to the relatives of the deceased.”

Eric smiled grimly. Now came the hard part. “His Majesty will accept no less than $30 million in compensation for his lost property.”

Dylan’s eyes about bugged out of his head. I’m sure I had much the same look on my face a couple of hours ago when Eric told us what Felipe was asking for. The amount was, of course, exorbitantly high. There was no way that property was worth $30 million and Felipe didn’t care about the loved ones of the people Powell had killed. He went for an amount that Eliza couldn’t pay, so that he could force his hand.

Dylan tried to buy some time. “This is most unusual. I must consult with my Queen.”

“Of course. Shall we reconvene here in hour?”

“Fine,” Dylan said shortly and he was out of the room in a flash.

Now was my chance to get a read on my skittish colt. I got up as casually as I could and walked over to the refreshment table in the corner. There I got two tall glasses of ice water and walked down the far end of the table, where Mr. Skittish and his companions were gathering up their papers. Eric saw where I was going and nodded approvingly. I plastered on my friendliest smile and went to work.

“Well hello there,” I said brightly. “I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced. I’m Sookie Stackhouse.”

“Hello, Miss Stackhouse,” the suit on the left said. He seemed friendly enough. He had thick Brooklyn accent, or at least I hoped it was Brooklyn. I only knew New York accents from TV. “You look like you have your hands full.”

I looked down at the glasses. “Why so I do! I was just wondering if any of y’all wanted anything to drink. These vamps don’t really take human needs into consideration sometimes! They just rush right in without so much as a by your leave! Honestly it can be real exasperating.” I was laying on the Southern belle bit a tad thick, but I didn’t think they noticed. People tend to be more forthcoming if they think I’m not very smart.

“That is very kind of you, Miss Stackhouse. I know I could sure use a drink. What about you, Jack? Tony?”

The one called Jack nodded gratefully and I handed him one of the glasses. Tony flinched when he was spoken to; he was my target. I gave the other glass to my new friend, whose name as it turned out was Jason. We made small talk for a few minutes. Jason and Jack were two of Eliza’s attorneys, while Tony was an accountant. I kept trying to get a handle on his thoughts but the only thing that was coming through loud and clear was that he was not supposed to be here. He had no idea why Eliza would need an accountant at a gathering like this and it made him nervous. I got the feeling that he was actively avoiding thinking about something. That peaked my curiosity. People only did that when they know that I’m a telepath. I can’t read every single thought a person has ever had; I can only read what they are thinking about in that moment. At that moment Jason was thinking about how great my boobs were and Jack wondered why a nice girl like me got involved with vampires. Neither of them gave any indication that I made them nervous or that I knew what they were thinking. Tony looked like he wanted nothing more than to bolt. Sweat broke out on his forehead and he tapped his briefcase with one thick finger. Finally the pressure got to him and he got up abruptly and muttered something about the bathroom. Well, I couldn’t let him get away, so I took off after him and grabbed his hand.

Tony turned and faced me with wide eyes. His mind opened up at my touch. Oh God, oh God, she’s touching me! They warned me not to let her touch me! Now what am I gonna do! Sarah’s going to kill me, if the vamps don’t get to me first! How the hell did I get in this mess? It wasn’t supposed to go this far! Archie was just supposed to go bust up a couple of rooms and get out. He wasn’t supposed to kill all those people! Shit! Shit! Shit!

I dropped his hand abruptly. Tony tried to take the opportunity to run, but Eric was in front of him before the accountant got half a step. Eric held Tony still and looked at me expectantly. “What did you hear?” he asked.

“Powell was sent to Las Vegas on purpose. He was only supposed to tear up some rooms and come back. There wasn’t supposed to be a killing spree.”

“Did he say who sent Powell?”

“No. But he knows.”

Eliza chose that moment to make her entrance. As always she was stunning in a purple gown with a plunging neckline. “I see you’ve found the traitor in our midst,” she said calmly.

“W-What?” I said, haltingly.

“I suspected Felipe was trying to infiltrate my inner circle. I couldn’t prove it until now. Thank you, Sookie.”

My anger rose as it dawned on me. Eliza used me. She had only been nice to me to get me to do what she wanted. She didn’t give a damn about anything other than saving her own skin. I don’t know why I was so surprised; Eliza was a vampire after all and a powerful one at that. Still, that didn’t stop me from doing a very stupid thing, but I was so angry that I didn’t care.

“So was that your plan then?” I shouted, as I got in Eliza’s face. “Butter up the lovesick human with your sob story so that I’d do your dirty work for you? Well, I’ve got news for you, your Majesty, I don’t work for you!” Then I hauled off and slapped her as hard as I could.

Eliza barely flinched. I reached up to slap her again, even though my hand hurt like hell, but this time Eric stopped me. I struggled against his grip, but he held me fast. I went to turn my fury on him until I saw his face. He was angry, furious even, but not with me. His cold stare was for Eliza alone.

“Explain. Now,” he said in a deathly calm voice.

Eliza smiled warmly, clearly not perturbed about having a vampire nearly twice her age ready to rip her throat out. “If you’ll come with me, all will be explained. Pam, please bring Mr. Morelli with us.”

I craned my head around and saw that Pam had Tony by the scruff of the neck. She made sure the traitor hadn’t gotten away when Eric came after me. Pam kept Tony out in front of her as she followed us and scrunched up her face in disgust. As we were leaving, a bewildered Jack and Jason were being interrogated by Dylan. I could have told him not to bother, but I never got the chance. I only hoped Dylan wasn’t too hard on them.

Together, Eric and I followed Eliza down to the main hall. He had loosened his grip on my arm but still wouldn’t let me go. My anger had calmed to a simmer; I was pretty sure I could control myself.

“You can let me go now, Eric,” I said quietly.

He looked down at me and smiled grimly. “This isn’t for your sake, but mine. I actually quite enjoyed watching you. You were magnificent.” He was silent for a second and frowned. “That was a very stupid thing to do, Sookie.”

I sighed. “I know. But you know me: trouble magnet. My temper occasionally overcomes my good sense.”

“Don’t remind me,” Pam muttered from behind us. “I know dogs that get into less trouble than you.”

“Hey!” I said indignantly. I looked at Pam but she was smiling at me. Leave it to Pam to see the bright side in all this.

We entered the main hall and Eliza gestured for us to sit. There was a small circular table in the corner near where the band had played a few nights before. I hadn’t noticed it then because of the crowds and my own nervousness. Now it looked like a spot where all sorts of shady dealings took place; ours was merely the latest in a long line.

After we were seated, Eric spoke. “What is going on here, Eliza?”

“Let me begin by apologizing. Sookie, I am truly sorry for tricking you into using your gift to ferret out this traitor,” Eliza began, gesturing to a shell-shocked Tony. “I did it for your own protection. If Felipe realizes that we are friendly with one another he may use that against you. This way you have deniability.”

I wasn’t sure if “friendly” was the word I would use to describe my relationship with Eliza at the moment, but I let her continue without comment. “This way Felipe can not accuse you of conspiring against him. If you came by Mr. Morelli’s treason independently of me than you would be a reliable witness at any tribunal he should wish to call.”

Now I was confused. Again. “Why’s Felipe calling a tribunal? What is that exactly?”

Eric answered the second question. “Remember Sophie-Anne’s trial at the summit?” I nodded. “A formal tribunal works the same way. If there is no formal gathering scheduled then a monarch can demand a hearing of charges against another in the interim. They are very rare.”

“That still doesn’t explain why Felipe’s calling one.”

Eliza took that one. “He hasn’t yet. But he will. Although, unless I am very much mistaken, I will have grounds to call one first.”

I sighed. “Lemme guess, this is what you need me for?”

“Yes, Sookie. If you would consent, I’d like you to confirm my suspicions by reading Mr. Morelli’s thoughts.”

I thought about that. If Eliza suspected what I thought she suspected then she certainly had grounds to call that tribunal thing. Of course that meant that I would have to go be witness girl again. It would also put Eric and me in close proximity to the possibly crazy monarch of Nevada. Right that second, moving to Alaska looked mighty attractive. I was tired of being a pawn in these vampire power games. But I couldn’t run away either. I just wasn’t built that way.

“Alright,” I said heavily. “I’ll do this for you on one condition. The next time you find yourself in hot water you leave Eric and me out of it. I’m tired of being a pawn in y’all’s chess game.”

Eliza smiled. “Fair enough. Is there anything you need?”

“No, I just need Tony to sit still. Eric, Pam? Could you stand on either side of him? But don’t touch him, y’all’s non-existent brain waves’ll get in the way.”

Eric and Pam did as I asked. They hovered menacingly on either side of Tony’s chair making it impossible for him to escape. I sat across from him, much like I had that night at Fangtasia so long ago, and took his hand.

“Who sent Archibald to Las Vegas, Tony?” I asked as gently as I could.

The accountant’s mind whirled. He tried everything to keep his thoughts away from what I wanted to know. He recited the alphabet. He did multiplication tables. He recited the Gettysburg Address and the Declaration of Independence. I decided to go a little more basic.

“How did you know Archie, Tony?”

His expression softened and a picture swam in his head. They had been lovers. For quite a while actually, much to the chagrin of Tony’s sister, Sarah. But Archie had lost thousands betting horses and was hard up for cash. The Queen had cut him off credit wise and Tony was nearly bankrupt himself. But a few weeks ago, a man – vampire, technically – arrived with an offer Archie couldn’t refuse. All he needed to do was go to Las Vegas and cause some havoc. When he completed his mission, he’d be paid a million dollars. The vampire with the offer? Victor Madden.

I let go of Tony’s hand. “It was Victor Madden. He came and offered Archibald a million dollars to go to Las Vegas and cause trouble.”

“I bet when Archibald arrived in Las Vegas they captured and starved him,” Eric said. “Victor had no intention of actually paying him. In fact the more trouble Powell caused the more Felipe could demand in restitution.”

“Sounds like you’ve given this a lot of thought,” Eliza commented.

“Not really,” Eric replied. “It’s merely what I would do I were in Felipe’s place.”

I shivered and thanked God that Eric was content with his own corner of Louisiana. To get to Felipe or Eliza’s level required a level of ruthlessness that Eric certainly possessed but only exercised when absolutely necessary. He knew that you got more flies with honey than with vinegar, as Gran would say. I had a feeling we were going to need that ruthlessness before all this was over.

“So what happens now?” I asked.

Eliza stood. “Now I file a formal complaint with the Ancient Pythoness. She will be most displeased to be brought out of her cave, but I have no choice. I will not let Felipe steal my territory away from me. Thirty million dollars, indeed.”

Pam snickered. I glared at her. Did that girl love a good fight or what? Me, I’d much rather keep my head down.


Ch. 10: http://michellemtsu.livejournal.com/36287.html#cutid1
 
 
Current Location: Camelot
Current Mood: blahblah
Current Music: Merlin - The Once and Future Queen
 
 
 
The Resident Vampire: TB - Eric/Sookie - Be alone with youvamp926 on September 28th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)
Go Sookie. I love that she has enough balls to slap a vampire. I loved this update, and I'm glad you updated! :D
michellemtsu: Eric/Sookie - Trust Memichellemtsu on September 28th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
I love that about her too. Honestly, she should know better, but her temper sometimes gets the better of her. She jumps into the fray even when it isn't in her best interests. She's a fighter, our Sookie!

Edited at 2009-09-28 12:01 pm (UTC)
Yani: True Blood - Northman & Stackhouseghostgirl13 on September 28th, 2009 09:20 am (UTC)
Your story is one of the best I've stumbled upon! You really have a way of capturing all the characters a la Charlaine Harris, but especially Sookie & Eric. I especially loved how Sookie stood up for herself against Eliza in this chapter. Looking forward to more!
michellemtsu: Eric/ Sookie - I'll Be Finemichellemtsu on September 28th, 2009 11:52 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm so glad you like it! :)
(Deleted comment)
michellemtsu: Eric/Sookie - Closermichellemtsu on September 28th, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC)
She's a firecracker, isn't she? It's one of my favorite things about her. I'm glad you're enjoying the story so far! :)
Mercy: Eric and Sookiehanyoulove on September 30th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)
I am loving your story! You've really captured the characters true personalities. Your fic is the best I've come across!
michellemtsu: Eric/Sookie - Kissmichellemtsu on September 30th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
Thanks! :D