A/N: The basic idea behind this story is this: Charlaine Harris said that she figured someone who dated vampires had to be kind of dumb, and that's how she wrote Sookie. It got me to wondering how Sookie's life might have been different if she were (more than a little) smarter - intellectually and emotionally.
Also, this is my first fanfic... please be gentle!
Edited to add: I've been told this chapter starts out a bit slow; for those of you just joining in, I promise it picks up quickly!
My name is Sookie Stackhouse. I'm a librarian, and I love my job. It's quiet, the people who come here are quiet and fairly respectful, and best of all: it's quiet. The double doors help to block out the sound from the outside, and the noises on the inside are murmurs, hushed whispers, and the sweet shuffling of paper. Did I mention that it's quiet?
I'd read that in larger cities and towns, libraries prefer volunteers or people with college educations and degrees in Library Science; in a small town like Bon Temps, they can't be that choosy. When I was still in high school, I spent my summers volunteering at the town library because it was quiet, the air conditioning worked (unlike the A/C at the old farmhouse that my Gran and I shared), and I had daily access to books.
School was hellish for me. With all of those minds buzzing around me, I could hardly concentrate. See, I have this little quirk that makes life interesting: I'm a telepath. My brother Jason used to tease me that it was easy for me to cheat on tests and pop quizzes, but the reality of it was that I couldn't be certain that the people around me knew the correct answers, either. I did the best I could in school, but honestly I learned more from my time in the library than I ever did from my teachers.
No, the best lesson I learned from going to school was how to shield myself from the thoughts of others. Once I had that figured out, it wasn't too hard to maintain my shields around adults – it was teenage hormones that threw everything out of whack for me. Where better to avoid my teenage peers than the library?
Life at the library was pleasantly uneventful. If I wasn't restocking books on the shelves, I was sitting at the front desk, checking books in, checking books out, or reading. Sometimes people would need my help locating a book, or would need to pony up their late fees, but for the most part I was left alone.
People tended to leave me alone outside of work, too. My earlier years of responding to things people didn't say out loud had earned me quite the reputation. "Crazy Sookie" was the nicest of my nicknames.
My telepathy was what had brought me to the library in the first place. I figured there had to be others like me out there: maybe one of them had written a book about it? Turned out that most of the books about my "gift" were largely speculative. If there were other telepaths out there, they were intent on keeping a low profile. Given the ways I could see telepathy (or telepaths, for that matter) being exploited, I decided that it was ultimately for the best to not tell anyone about my own experiences.
My parents had suspected that I "wasn't right," but they died in a flash flood when I was seven. Jason and I went to live with our Gran after that; they're the only people who know for a fact that I'm a telepath. We rarely ever talk about it, but they know.
I guess that was why I was so excited when the vampires came out of the coffin. Finally, there was proof that I wasn't the only Different one out there. I was fairly certain I'd never meet a vampire at the library: we were only open until eight o'clock at night, and during summer the sun didn't set until well after that. That suited me just fine. I was in no rush to meet a vampire. Knowing that they were real was comforting, but getting involved with them didn't strike me as a good idea.
When vampires announced their existence, it became known as the Great Revelation, but I wasn't all that surprised. I knew from all of my reading that most cultures around the world have stories and myths about vampires. If anything, the announcement made me wonder what other supposedly mythological creatures were out there. Recent developments aside, none of the mythologies about vampires were what I'd consider good press.
The newspapers never talked about it, but it seemed to me that for such a large group of different peoples to remain undetected by ordinary humans for so long, they had to have been organized in some fashion. With organization comes rules, and with rules come hierarchies and power struggles.
No, the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to have anything to do with vampires. To be fair, this didn't really set them apart from ordinary humans in my mind: I didn't want to have much to do with them, either. I had my goofy brother and my loving Gran, and I had my books. That was enough for me.
As much as I loved my solitary lifestyle, I knew that I needed occasional practice on my mental shields. Once a week I'd drive out to Shreveport and spend the evening in a crowded nightclub.
I had it all figured out. I'd use one of the computers at the library to scout out new clubs and see what sort of dress code was in place. The idea there was to make sure that I didn't stand out too much. Once I got to the club, I would sit in my car and make it look like I was doing last minute touch-ups to my make up. From my car, I could get an idea of how crowded the club was: that was the first exercise. After a minute or two, I'd have a good idea of what I was getting myself into. Then I would take two to three minutes ramping up my shields so that my mind was as quiet as I could get it. Once I had my shields in place, I would go into the club.
The first few times I went out, I found out the hard way that alcohol wasn't a good idea. I never really drank much anyway, simply because I had to drive almost an hour back to Bon Temps, but I found it was harder to maintain my shields if I imbibed enough to get a slight buzz. I didn't much care for alcohol anyway, so it was no skin off my nose. I saw what it did to the people around me when I was in the clubs. For the sake of fitting in, I'd order a single gin and tonic. If I was thirsty after that, I stuck with ginger ale.
At first, this whole process was nerve-wracking. No matter how I dressed, I stood out in the crowd. I assumed it was because of my boobs. The nice way of saying it is that I'm "well endowed." The more I thought about the people who stared at me, the more other people stared at me, too. Eventually, I recognized the pattern and learned from it: if I walked into a club thinking that I was invisible, no one paid any attention to me. It made me wonder if, in addition to reading the minds around me, I could influence them as well.
Within a few months of my clubbing excursions, I was already experimenting with that notion. I'd sit at the bar and scan the room to try to find a mind that was as inoffensive as possible. The ideal person wasn't there for sex; they were there because they were bored. They also couldn't be in a bad mood. I guess the nicer way to say it would be that they had to be open-minded. The meaner way to say it would be that they had to be a few french fries short of a Happy Meal.
If I found someone who fit the bill, I'd focus on getting him (or her - with as many limitations as I already had in place, I didn't feel the need to further discriminate by gender) to look my way. The first few times were an utter failure. It took weeks to even get them to look at me when I "sent" for them to do so. Good news was, that was the hardest part. Once I had that figured out, it was just variations on a theme: look at me, buy me a drink, spin in a circle, go hit on the bartender. It wasn't perfect, but it worked more often than not.
As it turned out, I could effectively make myself invisible. Not in the sense of being literally transparent, mind you. It was more that I could make people not see me. If their eyes happened to pass over me, they wouldn't take any notice of my presence. They appeared to look through me, rather than at me.
I was careful about all of this. I never went to the same bar or club more than twice in three months. I never tried to make anyone do anything that would be memorable in the eyes of anyone watching. If anyone asked, I never gave out my real name.
After a while, I found myself running out of clubs that I was willing to go to. I started recognizing faces in the crowds; that meant I had to be invisible more and more, and could experiment less and less. At that point, I felt like I had learned all I could from the common clubs anyway. It had come to feel like a challenge, a game. I was constantly trying to one-up myself; having to tone that down was more than a little frustrating.
I knew that my self-competition was what drove me to get better and better with my abilities. I also knew that if I wasn't careful, it would be what got me into trouble. I couldn't afford to get cocky.
Boredom can make a person do some incredibly stupid things. That's my only excuse: I was bored.
It was the middle of the week, and I was poking around online at work, trying to find a club that I hadn't been to that I wasn't already bored with. As bored as I was, I had limits. I didn't want to experiment in the physical sense, so strip clubs and swingers clubs were out of the picture.
No, as hard as I looked, there was only one place I hadn't already checked out: a vampire bar called Fangtasia. Well, shit. I really didn't want to get involved with them, and that seemed inevitable if I was going to start hanging out around in their clubs. But that bored part of me thought that once or twice wouldn't hurt, right?
Unfortunately, the website didn't give me a good idea about the dress code. Other clubs' websites had pictures of the clientele, but I guess the vampires wanted to maintain their aura of mystery. This meant I'd have to scope the place out first.
In the mindset of "better safe than sorry," I decided that I'd go to a club near Fangtasia that week. That would let me do a quick drive by the place to see what people were wearing outside the club. That should give me some idea of what to expect.
That's exactly what I did. It was almost too easy. The good news was that the line in front was nice and long. The bad news was that most of the people who appeared to be "regulars" were in black latex and leather. The lady who was checking IDs at the door seemed to wearing a black leather corset. Aw hell, they were all goths. Could they be more cliché? Not only did it look incredibly uncomfortable, I also knew it was expensive. I was not going to drop a hundred dollars or more on a single outfit for a stupid club.
As I sat at the bar of the dance club near Fangtasia, I realized that if I wanted to get away from the boredom, I'd have to dig out my darkest pair of jeans, scrounge up a black t-shirt, and hope for the best.
Now with additional disclaimer: All of the characters contained in this story are property of Charlaine Harris. I don't own them, I just like to play with them a bit.