Looking back, leaving Bon Temps was the greatest decision she ever made. It wasn’t until she was far away from the town and the small-mindedness and bigotry that resided there, did she realized how lost she had become. She had been shocked to realize she had begun to define herself by other people’s opinions. Although in a way she always had. The good folks of Bon Temps had always thought of her as a freak – that crazy Sookie Stackhouse girl – and she had believed them. She had known she was different from the rest of them; therefore she had to be wrong. She had let them define her. There are only so many times you can hear someone call you a freak before you start to believe it yourself.
They had made her ashamed of who she was, and what she could do. She looked at her telepathy as a curse, because they did, they had told her it was wrong, so she thought it was. Her own mother had feared her; the doctors dismissed her as a fanciful child, even though they believed her, even though they knew she was telling the truth, simply because they couldn’t explain it.
She realized things only got worse when she met Bill. Or, like it was, when he strolled into Merlotte’s pretending to be something he wasn’t. She went from being that crazy Sookie Stackhouse, to being that crazy fangbanging Sookie Stackhouse. Crazy seemed to be the common denominator, if they couldn’t explain it, or if it didn’t fit into their belief of how something or should be then it must be crazy. She wasn’t crazy, she wished she was sometimes; it would have made things so much easier.
She didn’t think it was possible, but their opinions of her got even worse when she started up with Bill. Bill Compton was her first love, well he was her first almost everything. Sookie gave Bill everything and all he gave her in return was a case of ‘what the fucks?’ she left Bon Temps to get away from Bill after he cheated, raped, and nearly drained her. For most people something like that would mean the end of the relationship, but Bill thought otherwise, he thought he could win her back.
When Sookie climbed into the cab of Alcide’s truck, she had no idea where she was going or what she was going to do. She was running on empty. She was bruised, battered, and bloody. Strangely, not an uncommon occurrence since Bill had walked into her life. All she had was a few dollars in her wallet and a database that was apparently worth millions to the right person, but worthless to her. She would have been lying if she said she hadn’t ever thought about selling, she knew of at least one Monarch that wanted it, and would do practically anything to get it, and she guessed others would want it as well. But she had no idea how to go about trying to sell it. She didn’t think ringing up the King of Mississippi and asking him if he wanted to buy it would work. Well, it probably would, but it was unlikely he would pay a lowly human for it when he could pry it out of her cold, dead hands.
There was also the problem of the Louisiana vampires. Technically, the database belonged to the Queen of Louisiana; it was under her orders that it had been created. Sookie didn’t think she’d be too happy if she sold it to the highest bidder. But if she was honest with herself, what really stopped her from selling it was Eric. He had already told her he was in danger due to the damn thing. He had been ordered to find Bill – and by extension, the database – and he’d done that. It wasn’t fair to make Eric suffer for Bill’s crimes. As infuriating as Eric could be, he had never actually hurt her. If it had just been Bill’s butt on the line, Sookie would have dumped the whole thing in the Mississippi, but she couldn’t do that. So instead she mailed the whole thing back to them. Although she got a small amount of pleasure with a mini fuck you to Bill when she mailed it to Eric at Fangtasia.
But the problem with that was if left Sookie with no money and no way to make any. They say you have to hit rock bottom before things start to look up, well it turns out they lied, cause after you hit rock bottom, there is fifty feet of crap, and Sookie was just wading in it. Things only got worse when they arrived in Jackson when Debbie Pelt greeted them.
Debbie took one look at Sookie and launched into a foul-mouthed tirade that would have made sailors blush. She accused Alcide of cheating on her, of fucking Sookie, she screamed and ranted, uncaring of who heard her. Sookie was not a violent person, but she strongly considered smashing her head into the wall. The only thing that stopped her was the fact that she could hardly move, and that Debbie was some kind of were who could probably kick her ass. Sookie left them arguing wanting no part of it. It was clear to her, despite his claims to the contrary, Alcide was not done with Debbie, but she was. She was done with both of them.
Grabbing her bags, Sookie shuffled painfully to the door, cursing her luck with each step. She now had no money, no means to make any, and now nowhere to stay. She wondered if there was a level beneath the fifty-foot of crap? She took shelter in the apartment next door to Alcide’s; the lock was still hadn’t been fixed from when Eric had broken in. She sat down on the cold floor and waited, for what she didn’t know. She felt tears well in her eyes as everything came crashing down on her, she had never felt so lost, she had no idea what she was going to do, but one thing she knew for sure, she wasn’t going back to Bon Temps. It would have been the easiest thing to do, but her reasons for leaving were still just, they hadn’t changed just because she found how, how unreliable Alcide was.
She listened as Alcide and Debbie argued through the wall, their voices were loud enough to hear as they spew vicious insults at each other. Sookie thought her relationship with Bill was toxic, but it had nothing on the nightmare that was Alcide and Debbie. When their heated words turned into groans and screams for more, Sookie tried to drown them out, but seeing how she was sitting in an empty apartment surrounded my silence it was impossible.
She didn’t know how long she sat there listening to the sound of her would-be-white knight fuck her one-time attacker, but it seemed like hours. She let out a sigh of relief when it started to quieten down; all those noises had given her a headache. She heard them shuffling around in the apartment and then a door slam. Sookie sat there in disbelief as she heard the two of the walking down the corridor. She felt like screaming as she listened to them leave and not once stop, she couldn’t believe after everything he had said Alcide had just left her like alone without a second thought.
That’s why I shouldn’t have friends: they just let you down.
Sitting on that cold, empty apartment floor, Sookie felt more alone than ever, closing her eyes, she rested her head against the wall and she thought about what to do, she couldn’t return to Bon temps and she couldn’t stay in Jackson either. She didn’t have a lot of time to decide as she realized the sun would soon be setting and she would have her ever-loving ex hot on her heels.
She was in the middle of throwing herself a pity party when a knock on the door disturbed her. Considering she was trespassing, Sookie ignored the knock, the last thing she wanted to do was get into trouble.
“Sookie? Sookie, I know you are in there,” a strange voice called. “I mean you no harm, but it is important I speak with you.”
Sookie stared at the door in shock, no one other than Alcide and Debbie knew she was in Jackson, and they had been too busy swapping bodily fluids to care.
“Please open the door, Sookie. My name is Stella Flack.”
Sookie debated whether or not to answer the door. The name meant nothing to her, but that didn’t really mean anything, she hadn’t known the names of the men who had attacked her last night either. The woman, whoever she was, knew who Sookie was where she was, and wanted to speak to her. That didn’t actually scream, “Open the door you can trust me” to Sookie, but she didn’t really have much of a choice. The lock was still broken, she could enter anytime she wanted and Sookie would be powerless to stop her. The fact that she knocked told Sookie she had at least had some manners. Sookie tried to read her mind, but her thoughts were all red and swirly telling her she was some kind of Were. Sookie figured it was just her luck; she hadn’t had the best luck when it came to Weres, and she had the bruises to prove it. Dragging herself to her feet, Sookie hobbled over to the door, she slowly pulled open the door, trying to shield herself the best way she could behind it.
As she got her first look at Stella Flack, Sookie had to admit she wasn’t what she was expecting. For some reason she was expecting another Debbie Pelt type of woman, but this lady was the complete opposite. She had thick, brown hair that tumbled down her back in wild curls, a lovely olive complexion and striking green eyes. She looked older than Sookie, maybe in her late thirties, but she was very pretty and well dressed. Sookie felt herself relaxing in her presences before she even realized she was doing it.
“Mmm, I can see why you would be reluctant to open the door,” she said as she took in Sookie’s appearance. “Weres are such nasty creatures.”
“Ain’t you a were?” Sookie asked. “And how do you know Weres did this to me?”
“Yes, I am. I suppose I should have said werewolves are nasty creatures, and so full of themselves. Big W, little w, what nonsense. The only thing more arrogant is that ridiculous tiger.”
“Tiger?” Sookie asked dumbly, “Tony?”
“Oh no, kiddo, I meant Quinn. Hopefully you’ll never meet him.” Stella said as throwing her head back and letting out a full rich laugh.
“Who are you?” Sookie asked, somewhat rudely. “And you never answered how you knew it was Weres.”
“My apologies,” she said as she stepped into the apartment. “Oh, no, no, no, this will never do. You can’t stay here. I’m Stella, and I know because she told me.”
“She who? Debbie Pelt? Are you a friend of Debbie’s?” Sookie asked fearfully, taking a step back.
“Oh, Lord no. I would never sully myself by consorting with her kind,” Stella answered. “I was referring to the Ancient Pythoness.”
“The Ancient who? What’s that?”
“Not what, who. The Ancient Pythoness is a very old, very powerful vampire. She is the head of the Supernatural council.”
“The Supernatural what?”
“The Supernatural council; don’t tell me you don’t know about them.”
“Until a few days ago I didn’t know about vampire Kings and Queens,” Sookie told her.
“Hmph, someone has been keeping you in the dark. The Supernatural council is much what it sounds like: a council, which governs the Supernatural world. Representatives from every race sit on it. Vampires, Weres, witches, fairies, demons and a few more besides. The Ancient Pythoness is the head of the council; her word is considered by law, by all,” she explained.
“And you work for this council?”
“I work for the Ancient One.”
“And what does any of this have to do with me?” Sookie asked. Why she wasn’t freaking out, she didn’t know, but after learning about vampire royalty it didn’t seem that big of a deal.
“Straight to the point. I like that. The Ancient Pythoness sent me to you. She had a vision…”
“A vision?” Sookie rudely interrupted.
“Yes, she is a seer. In fact, she was the seer at the temple of Apollo.”
“Temple of Apollo… wait you mean original oracle, the one that Alexander the Great consulted?”
“What does she want with me?”
“I was getting to that, but you keep interrupting me,” she scolded, but there was no heat to her words; they were almost playful.
“Sorry,” Sookie mumbled.
“The Ancient One had a vision about you.”
“Yes, you. In her vision, she saw what happened to you in Jackson. She saw what the vampire did to you in the trunk of that car,” she told me sadly. “She couldn’t prevent it; that part was written in stone. She saw your subsequent encounter with the Weres and how they hurt you. But the vision broke when you rescinded the invitation of the two vampires. It splintered into two, like a fork in the road, the pathways diverged.”
“What did she see?” Sookie asked curious.
“She saw the path you discarded and the one you now walk. The one you discarded was filled with pain, of lost love, of heartbreak, and death. She saw you lost to a world that wished to use you. Estranged from the one you loved and the one who loved you. It was a road that ended when you choose to leave Bon Temps.”
“And the other path?”
“That one is unclear. Many of the things that happened in the other will still happen; they cannot be avoided, but the end can change. I can’t tell you everything she saw, as I don’t know, but I can tell you she saw life in your future, and love. So much love.”
“What am I supposed to do?” Sookie asked.
“I can’t answer that for you. The choice is yours, and yours alone.”
“Whether to stay or go,” she said. “The Ancient One wishes to meet with you. That is why I am here. There is much she wishes to tell you. She sent me to give you her invitation. Whether you accept it or not is your choice.”
“Why does she want to meet me? And why should I trust her?”
“She just wishes to speak with you. She has the answers the questions you don’t even know you have. I can’t tell you to trust her; that is a decision you must make on your own. I know she means you no harm, but you shouldn’t just take my word for it. You trust too easily, and have given your trust to those who don’t deserve it.”
“Why should I trust you? How do I know you ain’t lying to me?’
“I have given you no reason not to trust me, but then I haven’t given you any reason to, either. I have not tried to harm you in any way and I have only told you the truth – something others in your life have been unwilling to do. But if it will help you decide, I will allow you to read my mind,” Stella offered.
“It’s harder for me to read Weres,” Sookie told her. “Your thoughts are all red and snarly.”
“But you can try. I will even open my mind for you. I have nothing to hide. I understand physical contact helps.”
“How do you know that?” Sookie asked suspiciously.
“There is one sure-fire way to find out,” she said as she held her hand out for me.
Sookie stared at her outstretched hand. Part of her wanted to back away. She was scared beyond belief at what she might learn. It was clear to her, she had been kept in the dark about the supernatural world, a lot more than she originally thought and she wasn’t sure she wanted to know why. No, she wanted to know why, she was just afraid to. She had already had the rug pulled from under her feet once, she didn’t know if she could survive having it done again so soon. But the biggest part of her wanted to know, needed to know. It was that thought that had her reaching out and taking Stella’s hand in her own.
Stella’s mind was snarling red mess. Random thought would pop into her mind and disappear before Sookie had a chance to latch on to them. Sookie tried to sort through her memories like she did with humans, but it proved difficult. Her mind jumped from one thing to another without rhyme or reason. Sookie managed to latch onto a image of a dark-haired man; from the tenor of her thoughts, Sookie knew the man meant a lot to Stella, by focusing on him Sookie finally managed to sort through all her thoughts a little easier. The mystery man held a signification portion of her thoughts, Sookie could tell he was someone Stella loved a great deal, there was warmth surrounding him in Stella’s mind, this man brought her comfort and sheltered her from harm.
“Eddie,” Sookie whispered learning his name.
“My husband,” Stella replied softly.
Stella opened her mind completely to Sookie, taking the young telepath by surprise. Sookie had no idea how she did it, but she took full advantage of it. Sookie saw her meeting with an old, white haired woman. She watched as the two of them discussed her. Sookie was shocked to realize that everything Stella had told her was the truth. Pulling out of Stella’s mind, Sookie stared at her in disbelief, no one had ever been so open and honest with her, even those she trusted, like her dearly departed Gran had kept things hidden from her. Sookie wasn’t sure what to make of it, in her mind; Stella had shown her everything, the good and the bad. She hadn’t hidden anything from her, showing her some of the more questionable things she had done.
“You see I speak the truth,” Stella said, breaking the silence that had descended upon them.
“I do,” Sookie whispered hoarsely.
“So, will you meet with the Ancient Pythoness?”
That was the question though, wasn’t it? Would Sookie meet with her?