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Meet the Sun

Chapter Text

 

PROLOGUE:

Rain

 

 

Neither Stackhouse children liked the rain, even a light drizzle had the power to put them on edge. Of all the eccentricities associated with the family, this one was the most accepted by the residents of Bon Temps. After all, both of their parents had died in a flash flood. Neither Sookie nor Jason could explain it, but for them the aversion to water ran much deeper.

 

Even their Gran noticed that she could never get them in a bath when they were younger- both would become increasingly agitated the longer they soaked. And although both of them learned how to swim, neither one of them spent long submerged. Sookie took to sunbathing and Jason preferred fly-fishing from the safety of his dock as opposed to spending the day on a boat. He dismissed it as motion sickness because it was easier to explain than the sensation he had every time he was on a watercraft: like the world was waiting to fling him off its surface or swallow him down into its depths and never let go.

 

Jason and Sookie had so little in common. They frequently found it difficult to understand one another, but neither one of them needed to explain the unease they both felt when the weather forecast predicted a storm. The sound of rain pounding on the roof at night often brought the two of them together. In rare moments of physical affection, they would snuggle together under one of Gran’s crocheted blankets and silently watch the rain out the living room window.

 

After Jason moved out, Sookie felt his absence most acutely during stormy nights. Both of them were relieved when he moved back into their parent’s house. His need for freedom grated on his patience and was often the source of Sookie’s frequent migraines. No one should have to listen to the thoughts of an adolescent boy, especially one as sexually active as her brother. Sookie never realized how loud Jason’s mind was until she was finally alone with Gran’s thoughts intruding on her own.

 

Gran was special. She was the only person that Sookie had met that was able to successfully mute her thoughts. The silence was not complete, but the volume of her mind was turned down to a muffled mumble, like a television left on in a room downstairs. It was in this quiet that Sookie had learned how to dampen her ability. For the first time she was able to “shut off” her ability for long periods of time, beginning at first as only a few minutes and now extending to hours. To be fair, it only worked when Sookie had the energy to focus on blocking out the other minds, but it was a good start. Breakthroughs tended to happen when there was a high volume of thoughts or if the thoughts were of a certain intensity- or if Sookie were tired, stressed or overwhelmed. Still, the achievement was a relief to everyone, but no one was happier than Sookie.

 

Today had been a celebration of that hard-earned achievement, and with Sookie’s eighteenth birthday only a few days away, the Stackhouses had decided to celebrate early. After enjoying a wonderful meal lovingly prepared by her Gran, Sookie was forced to drive Tara home early when it became clear that Tropical Storm Allison was going to touchdown in Louisiana. Normally Tara would take shelter at the Stackhouse residence during a storm, but Tara did not trust her mother not to drown in a drunken errand to find more booze.

 

Sookie drove the whole way with her fingers clenched around her steering wheel. Tara had offered words of comfort but Sookie only felt a reprieve from her anxiety when she saw that Jason had stayed behind to wait out the storm with her.

 

The first time she had sat alone in the living room during a thunderstorm was the worst. There was a huge yawning emptiness where her brother was supposed to be. Luckily the phone lines had not gone down, and the two siblings had stayed connected over the phone, although neither one spoke much. They just listened to each other breathe until the thunder faded away.

 

Although the weather channel reassured them the storm would only land a glancing blow on Louisiana, it hit them harder than expected. The roof groaned with every gust of wind as the rain pelted down. The Stackhouse home was solid, but it was also old and Jason found himself praying that the minor repairs he had done on the roof would hold. Suddenly, the image of rainwater pouring in through a gaping wound in the ceiling flashed through his mind. The true danger was the rain.

 

As the water level kept rising, Sookie felt unease pool in her stomach. The feeling was echoed by Jason’s thoughts. He was more on edge than usual, which left Sookie antsy and afraid. Outside she watched the ground go from damp to oversaturated, and slowly the puddles in the front lawn grew larger and ran into each other, forming a small pond in their front yard.

 

Gran did her best to inject calm into the tense room. There were still slices of pecan pie out, filling the room with its warm and comforting scent and mingling with the soothing aroma of the untouched chamomile tea she had prepared for them. Gran was surprised to see Jason had not touched his pie. He never failed to dig into her cooking, and was known to eat when he was nervous. Sookie had a plate in her lap, but Gran could tell it was only because her granddaughter wanted to maker her feel as though she was helping. As it was, Sookie only managed to pick it apart, occasionally nibbling at the pecans themselves. Gran stayed uncharacteristically quiet. Normally she would not abide by such picky eating habits, but it was clear her grandchildren were under extreme duress and she was glad to see Sookie eating at all.

 

Adele watched them over the rim of her teacup, giving her grandchildren the quiet and space they needed. She did not express her own anxiety, although her feelings were closer to sorrow than fear. A storm like this had robbed her of her only son and left her two grandchildren orphaned. The winds had not been particularly violent that night either, and that had led her son to believe that it was safe to travel. But the water levels rose and a mudslide had swept the car off the bridge and had taken Corbett and Michelle with it. It had been a miracle that Sookie survived.

 

Adele was a strong woman. She and her husband had built a life for themselves out of nothing. It was hard work, but it was paradise. Her happiness was to be short lived. One day her husband had disappeared, never to be seen again. Although the town had tirelessly helped her search for him, in the end all that she was left with was an empty grave and two small children to raise on her own. She filled her days with her children and worked hard to provide for them, but at night she was haunted by an empty bed and endless dreams where she would reach for someone who was never there. But no matter how she hurt, her children never saw her pain.

 

Despite all the misery that came before, nothing could prepare her for the day that she had to identify the bloated, mutilated and practically unrecognizable bodies of her son and his wife. Adele was inconsolable. She was grateful that Linda had briefly moved in with Hadley and helped her take care of Sookie and Jason until she could manage her grief. She was comforted to be surrounded by what remained of her family, and was grateful to still have her daughter and all her grandchildren with her and in good health. The town had gone above and beyond to support her, and through them she had found an extended family and the strength to carry on.

 

No mother should have to bury her children. And now that Linda had succumbed to uterine cancer, Adele had outlived both of her children and bore the pain in silence.

 

Sometimes she wondered if she had ever slipped, if Sookie had ever glimpsed the dark thoughts that had plagued her during her grief… but if she had, Sookie never spoke a word.

 

Now Adele made sure to fill her head with soft, reassuring thoughts in case Sookie picked up on them. Gran called it a “blur effect”, mentally putting a fog over her mind. Her grandchildren were upset as it was, she would not have them suffering any further because of her thoughts.

 

Sookie held Jason’s hand tightly, oddly comforted by the constant pulse of his thoughts that mirrored her own terror. It was nice to know she was not alone, that her feelings weren’t unwarranted. But she couldn’t help but notice that something else colored his thoughts, something deeper. Jason’s instincts were rapid firing and growing more apprehensive as the water level rose. His distress was becoming more and more obvious; he was practically vibrating in his seat.

 

Suddenly, the power cut out and plunged the room into pitch black. Before Gran could move to turn on a flashlight, lightning lit up the room and gave Sookie a clear view of her brother’s eyes before a loud crack of thunder shook the house down to its foundation. As though it were a starting gun at one of his track meets, Jason shot to his feet and ran out the door. Sookie felt her own self preservation urge her to dig in her heels and let go of Jason’s hand, but his tight grip yanked her out of her seat and sent her stumbling behind him, running as fast as she could in order to keep up.

 

The rain drenched them immediately. Sookie’s clothing clung to her like a second skin and she had to shove her hair out of her face. The water filled her shoes and made her stumble, but Jason’s grip was firm and he tugged her along with barely a pause. Sookie could hear her Gran’s scream on the wind, but Jason’s urgency muted the frantic thoughts reaching out to her. Instead, Sookie focused on the rapidly advancing graveyard. It was downhill from their property and the two of them slid repeatedly in the mud as the water level changed rapidly to lick at their calves. Because the graveyard was so old, the terrain was untouched and uneven. Unfortunately for Jason and Sookie, that meant that the puddles had unexpected depths.

 

A flash of lightning illuminated the night and saved the two from a falling tree branch. Jason’s quick reflexes jerked them out of its path, submerging them in a puddle beside the branch instead of trapped beneath it.

 

No matter how many times she had to repeat the story, Sookie had difficulty explaining what happened next.

 

Static electricity filled the air, putting her hair on end. She glanced down at their clasped hands and watched the goosebumps rise on both of their arms. The air between them sizzled and Sookie met Jason’s eyes. He was afraid. She was sure they were about to be electrocuted. She opened her mouth- to speak or scream, she wasn’t sure- but her breath was robbed from her as lightning tore through the air and touched down right behind her brother.

 

Logically, Sookie knew it couldn’t be lighting. But something had flowed through them and made them jerk as their nerve endings danced on edge. She and Jason were on all fours, wrist high in water. If it were lighting, they never would have survived. It couldn’t have been lightning… but there was no other explanation for the purple light that had crackled through the sky and filled them. The thunder answered, making their teeth rattle.

 

Somehow both siblings still heard the unmistakable sound of a body hitting the scorched earth.

 

Sookie’s ears began to ring, narrowing her world. Robbed of her hearing, Sookie was forced to rely on physical cues. She ran her eyes over her brother’s form to reassure herself that he was okay. A quick glance saw that he was doing the same.

 

Sound flooded back in all at once and brought their attention to the still form crumpled beside them. Neither one of them questioned how the girl got there or why it appeared as though she fell from the sky. They just implicitly understood that they were meant to find her and bring her home.

 

The girl was all limbs, her coltish body and the roundness of her face indicated her youth. Her long dark hair was matted around her form, her pale skin glowing in the darkness.

 

Sookie reached out and touched her strange formal dress; the rain had already destroyed the purple velvet. She heard Jason suck in a breath and turned to look at him. The shocked and angry expression led her to follow his gaze to the girl’s midsection. She gasped as she took in the damage. Her abdomen was shredded to ribbons and the wounds were still weeping blood as the rain vainly attempted to wash it away.

 

Jason quickly and carefully scooped up the injured girl into his arms and Sookie used Gran’s thoughts to navigate them home.

 

Adele didn’t know how to describe it. They were in the eye of the storm for only a few minutes. But the second the wind had stilled, Jason and Sookie appeared at the property line with a broken girl cradled in her grandson’s arms. The world seemed to be holding its breath as the three lost children crossed the yard and returned to the safety of their grandmother’s home like something out of an ancient fairy tale. Mere moments after Adele closed the door behind them, the storm surged back to life, but with decidedly less enthusiasm as though its purpose for being there was complete.

 

It is only much later, when the chaos has died down and the strange girl’s condition seemed to stabilize that Sookie finally realized what had been bothering her.

 

She couldn’t hear the girl’s thoughts at all. It was as though she wasn’t even there.


Chapter Text

ONE:

Thunder

 

After the door shut, Jason carried the girl to the dining room table that his sister had been born on. He shoved the runner to the floor and put her down.

“She’s hurt real bad and bleeding something fierce.” Her blood was all over his arms and chest, diluted by the rainwater. He looked at her abdomen and hesitated. He knew that you were supposed to apply pressure to a wound, but he was afraid that he might hurt her.

 

“We should call an ambulance,” he added.

 

Sookie was already in the kitchen, phone in hand, but she placed it uselessly back in its cradle. “It’s no use. Storm took out the phones. Besides, they wouldn’t be able to drive out here with all the flooding.”

 

Adele shined her flashlight on the girl so she could finally get a good look at her. Anger burned in her belly- who would do such a thing? Especially to a child. There was no time to waste. Whatever had happened to her, she was in Adele’s care now and she would do her best to put the girl back together.

 

“Jason- go and get as many candles as you can grab. We need to light this room as best we can. Get the lantern and flashlights too.” Adele had barely finished before Jason left her side.

 

She turned to her granddaughter and took hold of her shoulders. “I’m going to need your help. Run and grab the first aid kit and some towels.” She paused, glancing at the girl at the table before continuing. “Bring one of your bigger nightgowns. We are going to have to get her out of that dress.”

“Whatever you need,” Sookie said before leaving Gran alone with the girl.

 

Adele picked the runner off of the floor and folded it before placing it under the girl’s head. She pressed her hand to the girl’s forehead and frowned. She was running a fever. When she brushed her hair out of her face, she immediately noticed the congealed blood along the hairline on the right side of her face in what looked like nail marks. Adele also noted that she had a bruise with a cut on the left side of her forehead and her cheekbone was red and swollen- someone or something had hit her hard in the face. The corners of her mouth were split and raw. Had someone gagged her? Adele’s frown deepened as she saw the bruises circling her throat. She had been choked too. She went to take the girl’s pulse and gasped. Rope burn circled her wrists- the skin had been rubbed raw and split open in places. Adele pressed her lips together, bile burning in her throat as she swallowed down her anger.

 

She leaned forward and examined the planes of the girl’s face. She couldn’t be older than sixteen.

 

“I don’t know what happened to you, but you’re safe now,” she whispered to her. “No one is going to hurt you again. I promise.”

 

The girl’s face was serene. Adele was worried. Her eyes were not moving under her lids. As she was checking the back of the girl’s head for any lumps, Jason reappeared, his arms overflowing with candles.

 

“Be careful Jason. We can’t help the girl if the house is on fire,” she continued. She was glad to see that he had changed his clothes as well. She didn’t want him or Sookie to get sick.

 

Jason stepped back out of the room momentarily and returned with the lanterns and extra flashlights.

 

“Set them down on the sideboard for now and start lighting candles around the room.”

 

After a minute, she and Jason had managed to brighten the room up. Sookie came hurrying down the stairs with the clothes and towels in her arms and the first aid kit in her hand.

 

“Sookie, put down the clothes and kit on the sideboard and bring the towels over here. Jason, I want you to lift her up again so Sookie can put the towels under her. I’m going to go wash my hands.”

 

Jason gently lifted the limp girl in his arms again. “She don’t weigh nothin’.”

 

Sookie smiled reassuringly at her brother as she spread the towels out. “Don’t worry. Once she wakes up, I’m sure Gran will fix that right quick.”

 

“Darn tootin’,” Adele said as she re-entered the room. “Okay. Jason, you can lay her back down. Be careful with her head. Sookie, bring the two lanterns over here.”

 

As Jason gently lay the girl back down, Sookie handed Gran one of the lanterns and the first aid kit before grabbing the other light and placing it opposite of where Gran placed hers.

 

“Jason, go into the kitchen and get the big mixing bowl. Fill it with soap and water and grab the clean hand towels out of the drawer,” Gran instructed as she opened the first aid kit.

 

As Jason left the room, she told Sookie to look for any other injuries besides the ones to her face, wrists and abdomen. Using a penlight, Adele checked one eye and then the other before sighing with relief. Although the girl’s continued unconscious state signaled that she had a concussion, her pupils were normal which indicated that it was probably only a mild one.

 

“There’s blood all down her legs, but there doesn’t look like there are anymore serious injuries. Her knees are bruised, and there are some small cuts, but they’re scabbed over,” Sookie reported as Jason came into the room.

 

“Bring that right here, darlin’. Thank you. Could you fill another bowl with some warm water, please?” Adele directed.

 

“Sure thing!” Jason replied, already in the kitchen.

 

“And be careful! Don’t need you to trip and hurt yourself, now!” Gran called after him before turning to her granddaughter. “Can you light the rest of the candles, please, Sookie? We are going to need as much light as we can get.”

Adele smiled as Sookie complied. Checking the back of the dress, she frowned when she found no zipper or closure. Adele shook her head. With the damage to the front of the gown and the girl’s unconscious state, it would just be easier to cut her out of the dress. It was ruined anyhow- she would put it aside for whenever they managed to get the girl to a hospital. She took out the scissors and all the other supplies she would need.

 

Jason came bustling back in. “Is this warm enough? I didn’t want to burn her but I don’t want it to get cold.”

 

Adele took his face in her hands. “It’s perfect. Thank you, Jason. Now if you can give us girls some privacy, I’d appreciate it.”

 

For a moment it looked like Jason might argue about it, but then understanding dawned in his eyes. “I’ll go make my old room ready for her. You just holler when you need me.”

 

“Thank you, Jason, that’s very considerate of you.”

 

Then he was gone and silence filled the room as they listened to him thundering up the steps.

 

“We’re going to have to cut her out of the dress,” Sookie said.

 

“Yes,” Gran confirmed, not bothered in the slightest that Sookie had plucked the thought out of her mind. In fact, it would work in their benefit.

 

“Maybe I could apply to med school. I’d be a great nurse,” Sookie mused, trying to make light of the situation.

 

Although she did not pause in her task, Adele spoke to her granddaughter as though she was pressing each word into her palm. “You are a smart, capable young woman, Sookie. You can be whatever you want to be and apply to any school you’d like.”

 

Her eyes flicked up and held Sookie’s gaze for a moment, conveying her absolute sincerity before returning her attention to their guest. With the greatest care possible, she began the slow process of cutting the dress down the center without causing any further damage to the girl.

 

Sookie looked down and swallowed a sigh. With senior year approaching, it was a hot topic of discussion and one that caused frequent arguments between Sookie and her grandmother. The two women disagreed so rarely, and certainly never about something this important. She just wished that Gran could understand that even with her new control over her abilities, she still had slip ups and became easily overwhelmed- and that’s with minds that she was acquainted with! Sookie couldn’t imagine the amount of stimulation and stress she would have on even the smallest of college campuses. To her, it was a recipe for disaster.

 

Plus, she knew the financial situation for her family. Although Jason had decided not to go to college and Hadley ran off before finishing high school, the Stackhouses still weren’t rich by any means. After helping with Aunt Linda’s treatment and burial, not to mention contributing to the search for her cousin, Gran didn’t have a lot of spare money lying around. It would be too expensive to send Sookie to college as an experiment when they didn’t know the likelihood of failure. Sookie would never be able to live with herself if they managed to scrape enough money together to send her to school, only to be forced to drop out because of her disability.

 

Besides, Sookie was more than content to stay at home and look after her Gran. She was getting older, and although Gran would never admit to it, Sookie knew that she needed more help around the house than she used to. She was happy to earn her keep and get a job in town. The new restaurant Merlotte’s would be opening soon, and had already advertised for wait staff. Sookie knew that Gran wanted more for her, but she knew that her grandmother would understand her choice eventually- just not today.

 

Adele picked up one of the spare towels. “She isn’t wearing a bra so I am going to cover her with this once I check to make sure she isn’t injured. If you want to look away, you can. I’m going to ask you to sit her up and help me pull the dress out from under her.” Adele paused to gage Sookie’s response and waited until she nodded in affirmation. “Once we remove her dress, we both need to watch her carefully in case she wakes up. If that happens, she may panic- she’s in a strange room, with strangers, and half naked- so the sooner we can calm her down, the better. We don’t want to risk her injuring herself further.”

 

After a moment, Sookie directed her gaze elsewhere. If their situations were reversed, she would want the illusion of modesty.

 

Adele slowly and carefully peeled the dress away from the girl’s body. She had to take a moment as parts of the dress clung stubbornly to her wounds. A bruise was forming high on the girl’s ribs on her right side. Adele was not a woman who used profanity, and rarely felt the urge to do so, but this was definitely one of those times when she wished she had a more creative way to express her feelings. Finger shaped bruises that dotted the girl’s arm. There were so many, it looked like she had spots. They were a variety of colors, which meant she had been grabbed repeatedly and possibly manhandled by different people. Adele swallowed hard when she saw the wound on her right arm. It was an older wound than the others, red and swollen, but scabbed over. Cuts like this were usually only made one way for one reason. But with all the other wounds… there was no way that she could have done all of this to herself.

 

Other than some superficial scrapes to the girl’s palms, there didn’t appear to be any more wounds to the girl’s front. She gently draped the towel over the girl’s chest before hooking her arms under the girl’s and pulled her into a seated position. Sookie immediately pulled the dress out from underneath her. The bruise on her right side wrapped around her back- it was possible that the girl may have broken or fractured ribs. However, the girl didn’t appear to have any trouble breathing, so she was confident that her lungs weren’t punctured. Her back was starting to bruise along the shoulder blades, but there weren’t any additional lacerations. Satisfied that there weren’t any additional cuts for her to address, Adele gently lay the girl back down and adjusted the towel resting on her chest to give her access to her abdomen without compromising the girl’s modesty. Unconscious or not, Adele would respect her guest.

 

“Sookie, get one of the flashlights and keep the light on her belly.”

 

Sookie offered her a reassuring smile before switching on the flashlight. Adele examined the girl under the new lighting. She had multiple cuts, but they weren’t lacerations. Each cut was a deliberate incision. Although Adele was relieved to see that all the wounds were shallow and wouldn’t require any sutures, they all appeared to be about the same depth. It was clear these wounds were made slowly and intentionally and could not have been self-inflicted.

 

“Who would do such a thing?” Sookie whispered.

 

Adele frowned. “There are some terrible people in the world, Sookie. We just have to thank God that you and Jason found her when you did.”

 

Using a clean hand towel, Adele carefully bathed her wounds with the soapy water Jason had brought earlier. After patting the area dry, she put some bacitracin on a Q-tip and gently applied it to the wounds, stopping to switch Q-tips for each cut. They were swollen and angry red, but they were congealing. Adele was satisfied they were clean and that the redness would fade as it healed. She debated momentarily on whether to use steri-strips, but the cuts were too close together. They would just have to wrap her up the best they could. She carefully cut and arranged strips of gauze over her wounds before using medical tape to keep them in place.

 

Adele nodded her head, satisfied with the clean white bandages. Next, she carefully bathed the girl’s remaining wounds, legs and feet, removing all traces of blood before applying additional bacitracin to her other injuries.

 

“Okay,” Adele said, giving Sookie a small smile. “Why don’t you go get Jason while I put on her nightgown?”

 

“You sure you won’t need help?” Sookie asked.

 

Adele shook her head. “Sookie, I’ve had to take care of five children over the course of my life. I’ve put plenty of night clothes on sleeping children.”

 

Sookie returned Gran’s smile before leaving the girl in Adele’s capable hands. Gran carefully sat the girl up again and slid the nightgown over her head before gently guiding each arm in. The nightgown Sookie chose was large, so it was an easy task. As the nightgown pooled around the girl’s hips, she heard Jason and Sookie come down the stairs.

 

“It’s safe,” Sookie reassured her brother before they came into the dining room.

 

Gran took a moment to pick up the girl’s destroyed gown before turning to her grandchildren. “Can you two put the bowls in the kitchen sink? I’ll clean them in the morning. And bring me a large ziplock bag for this.”

 

As they helped her clean up, Gran went around the room and began blowing out the candles. They re-entered quickly, Jason handing Gran the requested bag.

 

“Let’s put her to bed. Sookie, would you mind blowing out the rest of the candles? The last thing we need is a fire.”

 

Jason swooped right in, effortlessly taking the girl into his arms. She just seemed to fit. The urgency that had his heart in a painful grip earlier had eased and left in its place a curious sense of connection. It was not romantic by any means, the girl was younger than his sister, but it was different than the feelings he had for Sookie. He imagined that what he felt was similar to what a father must feel for his child. Jason wondered what had happened to her, and who could have done this to her. More importantly, he wondered who was waiting up for her, looking for her, wondering if she was okay…he knew what it was like to wait for someone who never came home.

 

“Don’t worry, we’ll keep you safe,” Jason pledged.

 

When they got to his old room, he gently lay her down in the bed, making sure not to disturb her wounds too much. Then he tucked her in just like he used to for Sookie.

 

Adele watched the interaction, noticing how they had all formed a protective circle around the girl. Sighing, Adele placed the lantern on the bedside table and sat down in the chair Jason had pulled up next to the bed.

 

“Now, will someone tell me exactly what happened?” Adele asked, keeping her voice soft. “What made you run out into the storm like that? Did you hear a crash? Was there a car wreck?”

 

“No, ma’m. Nothin’ like that. Can’t really explain what made me go out there. Felt like I was possessed or somethin’. I just felt like… like that feeling you get when you know something is wrong.” The feeling I had the night our parents died.

 

Jason struggled to find the right words. “I don’t know exactly what it was. It was like I knew she was going to be there, that I had somewhere I needed to be.”

 

“Jason’s right,” Sookie added. “I felt it too. Not just from him, but I had the same feeling, just not as strongly as he did.”

 

“How did you find her?” Gran asked. “I mean, how did you know where she was? Did you see anything out there that might have let you know how she got there?”

 

“No. We were in the graveyard, and- I don’t know, Gran, it’s like she fell from the sky like some kind of angel.” Jason shrugged, dismissing himself. “There was no one out there but us. No cars or anything that I could see. Just her and us.”

 

Adele was bewildered. “Well, we will just have to wait until the storm passes. Hopefully something will turn up.”

 

“I hope so,” Jason said, rubbing the back of his neck.

 

“Did she tell you anything? Was she conscious when you found her?” Adele asked, feeling foolish she hadn’t asked earlier.

 

Again, Jason shook his head. “No. She was out cold.” Suddenly, he looked at his sister. “Hey Sook- can you hear anything? Maybe that will give us a better idea about what happened.”

 

“Only if you feel comfortable, dear,” Gran tacked on.

 

“No, it’s fine.” Sookie smiled at them both, “I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. Can’t promise that I’m going to be able to learn anything about the accident though. People think differently when they’re asleep.”

 

Sookie took a moment to tune out the thoughts of her family. She didn’t disclose that people’s thoughts were also much harder to read when they were sleeping. When conscious, a person’s thoughts were usually self-aware, but when asleep, the subconscious mind took over. When she tapped into the sleeping mind, she sometimes got flashes of what they were dreaming about, but more frequently, their thoughts would just be cloudy- similar to how her Gran was consciously able to hide her mind from Sookie.

 

Her forehead creased with concentration as she tuned out her family’s thoughts, only… Sookie frowned and stepped closer, closing her eyes and placing her palm gently on the girl’s arm in order to give her a direct link into the girl’s mind. It was next to impossible for Sookie to shut out the mind of someone she made skin-to-skin contact with. But the results were the same. Amazed, Sookie stared open mouthed at the girl, then at her family, then at the girl again.

 

Her slack jawed expression would have been amusing at any other time, but Jason was impatient and concerned by her response.

 

“Well?” he pressed.

 

“There’s nothing,” Sookie breathed.

 

“Nothing? What do you mean nothing?” Jason hissed.

 

“Be quiet,” Gran hushed.

 

“Her mind isn’t there. I mean, there isn’t even a negative space where it should be, like a hole or something, there’s just nothing. As though she were a piece of furniture instead of a person… I can’t sense her at all.”

 

Suddenly, Sookie became worried. “Do you think she’s brain dead? Maybe she hit her head harder than we thought.”

 

“I am not a doctor, Sookie, but I would like to think there would be more signs besides unconsciousness if she were brain dead.” Gran did not think that the girl was brain damaged by the accident, but she didn’t want to soothe her grandchildren with false promises. Besides, if she were, there would be nothing that they could do about it beyond making her as comfortable as they already had.

 

“So you can’t hear her at all?” Jason asked, completely dumbfounded.

 

“No. Not a peep.” Sookie confirmed.

 

“Huh. How ‘bout that.”

 

Gran stood from the chair and walked over to her grandkids. “Why don’t you both get some sleep? You had a hard night, and I’m very proud of both of you. There will be a lot to do tomorrow, so you should rest while you can.”

 

“Naw, Gran. You both took care of her so far, let me take care of her so you both can get some sleep.” Jason said, noticing how tired Gran looked- although he would never say that aloud unless he wanted to get licked for it.

 

Gran smiled and ran an affectionate hand down his back. “That’s real sweet of you, Jason, and I appreciate the offer but because we don’t know what happened to her…” Gran trailed off as she tried to find a way to put it delicately. “It might make her feel safer if another woman was there when she wakes up.”

 

Jason frowned. “You don’t think she-.”

 

“I don’t know, sugar,” Gran whispered. “But I’d rather take the precaution. We don’t want her to have to go through any more unnecessary trauma.”

 

Jason reluctantly conceded. “Well… alright- but I don’t like the idea of you staying up all night.”

 

Before Gran could reassure him, Sookie stepped in. “No, Gran. Jason’s right. I don’t think either one of us would feel comfortable leaving you here and I don’t think we would get much sleep if we did.” Sookie pause and smiled at her. “Besides, you’ll have to take care of all three of us tomorrow. Lord help her when she wakes up, you’ll cook her enough food to last her a lifetime.”

 

Gran looked like she was going to argue, but Sookie effectively silenced her by taking a hold of her hand, pressing her thumb into her Gran’s palm. “Let me take care of her.”

 

Something in her tone took Gran by surprise. She always knew that Sookie’s telepathy had aged her granddaughter and made her wiser than her years, but she had never heard this kind of certainty in her voice before.

 

“This is important to you, isn’t it.” It wasn’t a question.

 

Unexplainably, Sookie felt her eyes welling with tears as she nodded. “I don’t know why,” she whispered, “but I feel like she’s mine. Like she was meant for me.”

 

Struck by her honesty and sincerity, Gran gave in with a nod. “But you have to promise to wake me up if anything changes, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Understand?”

 

Sookie nodded. “I promise.”

 

“Why don’t you go on to bed, Gran, I won’t be far behind you,” Jason said, kissing her on the forehead.

 

“Don’t you go telling me when to go to bed, boy. I’m still your grandmother,” she said, a smile in her voice as she mockingly wagged her finger at him.

 

Sookie leaned over to give Gran a kiss on the cheek. “Night, Gran.”

 

“Good night, Sookie,” Gran replied before knocking a kiss on Jason’s cheek. “Good night, Jason.”

 

“Night, Gran!” Jason responded cheerfully.

 

“You best be right behind me,” she chided as she left the room. “Remember to call me if you need anything. Love you both.”

 

“Love you too!” they chorused back.

 

“You sure you don’t want company?” Jason asked.

 

“Thanks. But I’ll be fine. Besides, how will Gran be able to take care of our guest if she’s too busy whooping your behind?” Sookie teased, tongue between her teeth.

 

“Alright. If you’re sure. Why don’t you go grab a book and use the bathroom so you don’t have to hold it all night?” Jason offered. “I can watch her for five minutes.”

 

Sookie hesitated, but she knew he was right. She gave him a grateful smile before dashing to her room to use the bathroom and grabbing her copy of Death’s Daughter to help pass the time. When she came back into the room, she was surprised to see her brother carefully running a comb through the girl’s long hair.

 

He startled when he saw her, looking like he was going to hide the comb behind his back. “It was all tangled,” he explained bashfully. “Just figured it couldn’t be too comfortable. ‘Sides, I figured it would help relax her, even though she’s already asleep. Always worked for you after a nightmare.”

 

“Yes it did,” Sookie smiled at him to let him know he had nothing to be ashamed of. “You should really get some rest.”

 

He nodded and gave the girl’s hair a finishing stroke before putting the comb down. “I’m just going to go finish cleaning up downstairs. Give Gran one less thing to worry about tomorrow.”

 

“Why don’t you sleep in my room?” Sookie offered. “It’s not like I’ll be using it. ‘Sides it’s much comfier than the couch. And you’ll be closer to her in case we need anything.”

 

“Thanks, Sook. Don’t hesitate to wake me up, no matter what it is you need,” he said as he gave her a tight hug.

 

“I won’t,” she whispered into his shoulder before pulling away. “G’night.”

 

“Night, Sook. Love you,” he said, taking a last look at the girl before leaving.

 

“Love you too.”

 

Sookie took a deep breath before she settled back into the chair. She closed her eyes for a moment and let all of the evening’s events settle in. After a moment, she opened her eyes and leaned forward to take the girl’s hand in her own. She was so pale compared to the deep tan Sookie kept all year round. The girl’s skin was practically translucent and glowing in the moonlight. Sookie imagined that if she took the girl sun bathing with her, she would turn red instantaneously. In the sun, Sookie would be the one glowing. They were like night and day.

 

Belatedly, Sookie noticed that at some point the rain had stopped and the sky had cleared. She was hopefully that the phone lines would be restored tomorrow or that they could at least safely navigate the roads in order to take her to the hospital in Jason’s truck.

 

She tried again to touch the girl’s mind, but her ability just flowed through her as though Sookie was just sitting beside an empty bed.

 

“Don’t worry, I see you,” Sookie reassured her. “And I won’t let you out of my sight.”

 

Sookie reached over and brushed the girl’s hair out of her face before sitting back down, still holding the girl’s hands in both of her own. The gesture came instinctively, serving to calm herself and the girl.

 

As the night wore on, Sookie heard Jason finally clamber back up the stairs before collapsing in her room. She felt both his and Gran’s thought patterns change in a way Sookie had come to associate with sleep. She waited until she was sure that no one else was awake before allowing herself to completely relax. She draped an afghan over her lap and picked up her book, stopping every page to double check on the girl before turning her attention back to the story.

 

It wasn’t until early morning that Sookie noticed a change. The girl’s eyes started to flicker behind her lids and she began shifting slightly in her sleep. Sookie hesitated as she remembered her Gran telling her to wake her up if there were any changes. But she knew Gran rose with the sun and she was bound to wake up on her own in about an hour. Sookie deliberated for a bit, going back and forth, before she finally decided that she was going to let Gran sleep unless there was another change.

 

Just as the sun broke the horizon, the girl’s eyes flickered open. As her dreams receded from her view, the girl’s expression changed from serene to confused. She was clearly afraid, but much calmer than Sookie would have been in her situation. She tried to talk, but only managed to croak out a few words.

 

“Here,” Sookie said, gently helping the girl take a sip of water. There were so many questions she wanted to ask her, but she swallowed them down, deciding that the best course of action would be to allow the girl to speak first.

 

After she finished drinking, the girl tried to sit up, only to hiss in pain. Wide-eyed she pulled the blanket back and ran her hand over her abdomen.

 

“Careful! You were pretty banged up when we found you,” Sookie said before meeting the girl’s eyes. “Do you remember what happened?”

 

The girl’s forehead wrinkled in concentration before she shook her head, her expression now more worried than frightened. “No, I can’t remember. I don’t even know where I am. Should I?”

 

The girl’s voice was whisper soft and hoarse, likely due to a sore throat and dehydration. Although her high-pitched voice hinted at her youth, there were ghosts that stood behind the girl’s eyes as though she had been around far longer than her appearance suggested.

 

“You’re in Bon Temps.” At the girl’s blank stare, Sookie elaborated. “Louisiana.”

 

“Louisiana!” The girl sounded stunned.

 

“Well, you’re clearly not from around here. You’ve got a funny accent,” Sookie said, smiling to lighten the mood. “Where are you from?”

 

“I have an accent?” she asked, although now she could tell her voice sounded different from the stranger’s. “I’m from…” and she struggled again to find answers to what should be a simple question, but they evaded her. “I’m from somewhere sunny. I can’t remember the rest.”

 

Sookie was concerned. This was not good, and honestly, it wasn’t something she had been expecting to deal with when the girl woke up. “What do you remember?”

 

A panicked look came on the girl’s face and although Sookie couldn’t read her mind, she could tell that she was frantically attempting to remember something- anything- but seemed to keep drawing blanks.

 

Sookie took the girl’s hand in hers again, squeezing lightly. “It’s okay. You’re not alone. I’m going to help you get answers. I promise.”

 

The girl’s breathing seemed to calm down a bit and she managed a shaky smile.

 

“Do you remember your name? Mine’s Sookie.” At the girl’s expression, Sookie laughed. “Kind of a silly name, right? It was my mom’s idea.”

 

“My mom was like that too- she named my sister…” She had been so close. The name had been on the tip of her tongue, ready to trigger a thousand memories, but she could literally feel the thought get snatched out of her mental grip and tossed into the abyss with her other memories. “She named her… something silly I guess.”

 

Sookie’s eyes brightened. “That’s great! You have a mother and a sister- do you remember anything else about them? Is there a way we could contact them?”

 

Loss swelled in her breast and her eyes began to tear but she couldn’t figure out why. Sadly, she shook her head again. “No. I don’t even remember their names or what they look like… I don’t remember anything at all.”

 

“Do you know what your name is?” Sookie repeated softly.

 

To her surprise, her name came easily. Returning Sookie’s smile, she said, “Dawn. My name is Dawn.”

 

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TWO:

Lightning

 

Dawn was born in a lightning cloud. When she closed her eyes and thought back as far as her memory would take her, she remembered pain. There was a pain that was physical and a pain that cut her deeper: the sound of her name spoken with a voice that felt like home but with the desperation of someone too late to save her. From what, she wasn’t certain; but Dawn supposed it had something to do with the situation she was in and the wounds that covered her from head to toe.

 

Everything was purple. The cloud, the dress, the lightning… but in it she could make out the figure of a blonde woman, almost angelic in white, reaching out to her. Protecting her. Sun-kissed skin against her moonlit bloodstains.

 

Dawn remembered her eyes, pools of green filling with tears and distorting her own reflection. Although the woman was shorter than her, she was somehow older. She could hear herself talking. Dawn was frustrated that the woman’s features scattered every time she shook her head, making it impossible for Dawn to put her face together. But the static in the air grew stronger and the lightning came closer-

 

“I have to stop it. You have to let me go. You know you have to let me…”

 

The love between her and this stranger was so palpable to her and the pain of their impending separation was worse than the physical agony from before.

 

Then she was falling, like Alice, down the rabbit hole and into a lightning cloud. Electricity filled her, and Dawn felt as though she was exploding and coming together all at once. The light was blinding, pulsing, but peaceful. She wondered if this was heaven.

 

The pain returned all at once. It felt like all the blood in her veins was burning its way through her, forging her into something new. It was in this moment that Dawn could feel her memories being taken from her desperate fingers; and no matter how she clung to them, they still slid from her grasp.

 

She called out a name, a last attempt to hold onto everything she had once held sacred, but it was no use. The name was lost to her, and so was the person it belonged to.

 

As light receded from her gaze and darkness crept in, whispered words echoed through her, like the most gentle kiss goodbye.

 

“We’re calling her Dawn.”

“I… I could be the one to look after her sometimes… if you need a helper…. Mom? Can I take care of her?”

 

Then it was gone and she was alone in the darkness.

 

 


 

 

Sookie hated large crowds. She was getting better at blocking out the sound of people’s minds as a whole, but being able to hear their thoughts buzzing like bees around her own still made her antsy. Sighing and shifting a little in her seat, she tilted her head back and closed her eyes. At least it was a beautiful day out. The sun was shining and it was surprisingly cool considering that summer was right around the corner.  

 

Although she had graduated and moved on, Sookie still felt uncomfortable whenever she was on school grounds. It housed a lot of bad memories that she’d rather forget and thoughts she wished she hadn’t been forced to read. She was doing much better now- the controlled environment of Merlotte’s had actually been a blessing. She had much better command of her powers in the presence of larger groups as she learned how to build mental barriers and filters. This, of course, boosted her confidence and made it easier to shrug off the scrutiny of the locals. She knew better than anyone that she was not the strangest person in Bon Temps or the one with the darkest secrets. Sometimes when she received an especially disdainful gaze, she was tempted to let them know that they had no place to judge her- but Sookie had no plans to leave Bon Temps and mouthing off about someone’s secrets would make life very uncomfortable to say the least.

 

Sookie knew that Gran had hoped that she would reconsider college now that she had a better hold on her powers, but she was comfortable at home. Being alone with her own thoughts had finally allowed her to find her own feet and develop her own sense of self; a discovery phase she was robbed of in high school. Although she had to admit that things did improve once Dawn entered the picture.

 

It was complicated at first. Overly complicated. Once Dawn was brought into the emergency room of a small-town hospital, chaos ruled. The facility was used to treating heart attacks and strokes and the occasional automobile accident or barbeque injury, but between the mystery of Dawn’s identity and how she became so wounded, the hospital was alive with intrigue.

 

The fight with social services began immediately when the Stackhouses were forcibly separated from Dawn once she was admitted to the hospital. At first it was understandable, Dawn needed to go through in-patient procedures and each of them needed to make their statement to the police.  But despite repeated interrogation, the police were no closer to discovering what had happened.

 

The situation became more complicated because Dawn was a minor and had no memory prior to her accident, let alone any important identification information like a social security number or place of birth. Bud Dearborn and Andy Bellefluer temporarily filed Dawn as an abandoned child, bringing the FBI into the picture when all the resources in neighboring jurisdictions had been exhausted.

 

When the separation between Dawn and the Stackhouses continued to be upheld by Social Services, Dawn immediately went into panicked hysterics and her health began to steadily decline as she became less responsive to treatments. The staff noticed that she was especially distrustful of young male staff to the point of what appeared to be a complete mental breakdown.

 

After consulting with the child psychologist on staff, they allowed the Stackhouses to visit during visiting hours and found Dawn relaxed and was more responsive to treatment. Faced with these results the psychologist stepped in and made a compromise with social services to allow the Stackhouses to stay with Dawn during visiting hours with a member of staff present at all times. The change was almost immediate and doctors refused to tamper with a situation that supported their patient’s recovery.

 

The police were skeptical about Dawn’s amnesia from the moment they became involved. Paired with the strange circumstances of her injury and appearance, the police commander in charge felt that it was more likely that Dawn was hiding something. To be fair, they didn’t think she was hiding information for malicious intent, but rather because she was scared of the consequences. Additionally, true amnesia is rare and and retrograde amnesia even rarer and usually reserved for soap opera plots.

 

All of the police theories proved for naught as test after test came back supporting the initial suspected diagnoses. It caused some friction between the doctors and police, but Dawn was made to run the full gamut of tests. She endured MRIs and CT scans, blood tests to rule out nutritional deficiencies and infections, an EEG and several different neurologists with different specialties observing and prodding and the conclusion was the same: the cranial trauma Dawn sustained most probably caused retrograde amnesia.

 

Her semantic and procedural memories were intact- tests proved that Dawn had a grasp of facts, meanings, concepts and knowledge about the external world and that she retained her memory of skills and how to perform everyday functions.  To Dawn’s relief, they had concluded that she was successfully able to make new memories and attain new skill sets. The long term testing would be continual as retrograde amnesia can be progressive and can worsen over time.

 

However, her episodic memory was severely damaged—although she remembered her name (or what she thinks was her name), and the slightest idea that she may have had a mother and sister, no other autobiographical events or facts could be restored. The doctors did their best to reassure Dawn that there was a chance she would recall memories as she healed but she was understandably heartbroken.

 

Her solace continued to be the Stackhouses. When she became frustrated over the slew of tests and continual poking and prodding, Jason soothed her anger by doing amusing impressions of the various doctors and police officers. When she disconnected and completely withdrew from the world, Sookie was able to coax her back out by drawing her tirelessly into conversations about her hometown and the people who lived there. And when Dawn was bereft and inconsolable over what she had lost, Adele soothed her tears and refused to allow her to be without hope. The love that the three bestowed upon Dawn was returned wholeheartedly and the four became a family unit in everything but name.

 

As the search continued, no records were found of Dawn- there were no missing children who fit her description and no fingerprints or DNA evidence was found on file. As it was, they weren’t even entirely sure if “Dawn” was her real name, but it was better than Jane Doe.

 

After their initial upset with social services, luck was on their side as they were assigned a brilliant social service representative named Claudine who worked with them, keeping Dawn with them as a foster child until they were able to obtain legal guardianship of her permanently. It was tricky as Dawn had no social security number, no medical records and no past that could be found by the US government.  But Claudine made sure that once Dawn was released from the hospital, she would be able to go home with the Stackhouses temporarily until she was able to ensure permanent placement there. The new family was ecstatic at the news and became even more grateful as the media descended upon them.

 

Initially protected by her status as a minor and as a patient in the hospital, the media had to make due with only formal statements from the police and the hospital staff. In the beginning only local tv stations and papers were the ones making inquiries, but when the police released a picture of Dawn to the national media in an attempt to gather more information about her, news stations began appearing outside the hospital as the public became obsessed with finding out the truth behind the mystery of what had happened to the girl with such sad eyes.

 

Although there were people who claimed to be her parents, no satisfactory proof was ever provided to support their claims. She received a ton of mail while in the hospital and some lovely care packages that buoyed her hope of finding her home. Of course, there was the downside of her “fame” as well. Many people claimed to be her relatives, but once those leads were followed up by police, none of them were able to supply any evidence that Dawn was related to them.

 

Although Dawn and the Stackhouses had been excited when Dawn was told she would be released, they were hesitant. The hospital had acted as a barrier between her and the real world, and now they would no longer be protected by its walls. Once Dawn was released, the media was able to get their first real glimpse of her.

 

The picture in all the newspapers showed Dawn smiling shyly with Sookie holding one hand and Jason’s arm slung easily over her shoulders while Adele stood to the side as proud as a mother hen. The picture soon adorned the Stackhouse refrigerator.

 

As time passed, Dawn made a few appearances on talk shows to cover the hospital expenses. Interest in her waned as the mystery of her origin remained unsolved. The police eventually concluded that she must have been in the care of someone who had abused her and she had somehow either escaped or been abandoned in the storm. They chalked up her apparent “Houdini” appearance as a trick of the weather—the two Stackhouse siblings were in the middle of a Tropical Storm, they simply must have failed to notice her laying there until they were on the ground.

 

In the meantime, the simple things were attended to. Dawn assimilated into life with the Stackhouses with ease. The family had some hiccups as she settled in, but nothing that Adele hadn’t already experienced from bringing up four teenagers. One of the main issues was how to handle telling Dawn the truth about Sookie’s ability. They awkwardly avoided the issue as best they could, but it was a point of contention for Tara.

 

While Dawn had fit seamlessly into the Stackhouse home, Tara had a near instant dislike of the girl. She was always civil and respectful- she would never dream of acting otherwise in front of Adele- but Dawn’s repeated attempts to earn Tara’s trust only gained her ire. Although Tara was sympathetic of the trauma the girl had been through, she couldn’t help but feel enraged by the privileges Dawn seem to be given because she was a pretty damaged white girl in the system. Someone like Tara would have been swallowed whole.

 

Sookie knew that some of Tara’s anger came from the fear that Dawn was somehow taking her place. She tried her best to reassure her friend in the hopes that she would be kinder to Dawn, but Tara would not budge on the matter. She did not trust Dawn and Tara was positive that once she knew Sookie’s secret, she would reject her.

 

The family decided to wait until Dawn had fully settled in before telling her, hoping to give her some normality before introducing her to the crazier elements of their reality. It was a struggle, especially on Jason’s part, but it was agreed that Sookie would be the one to decide when to tell Dawn her secret. For now though, she contented in being able to relax in the quiet of Dawn’s mind, an experience matched only by the peace she felt while bathing in the sun.

 

Dawn tested into the ninth grade and soon began formal education. As an outsider in a small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business, Dawn was treated as a curiosity. It certainly didn’t help that she was socially awkward, with huge gaps in her memory regarding some of the social norms and pop culture references. Sometimes this resulted in public embarrassment, and Dawn was soon extremely cautious about making friends.

 

The exception to this matter was Amelia Broadway, who had gravitated to Dawn’s side and simply would not give up on the matter of becoming Dawn’s friend. Amelia was also a bit of an outsider-- her parents were “Yanks” who somehow ended up in Bon Temps through a series of strange events. Her father was a well-known building contractor in the lumber industry and was now the owner of the finest estate in Bon Temps. Amelia was a peculiar girl, a strange mix of earth mother and fashionista with an endless collection of long skirts (all vintage or designer, of course) and a healthy Stevie Nicks obsession.  Although Gran was suspicious that the girl burned more than incense, Amelia’s ability to tease laughter out of Dawn when she was in one of her darker moods made her an immediate asset to the family.

 

Dawn stumbled her way through high school, sometimes quite literally. Although Jason managed to coax the girl into going on runs with him, she often lacked the physical agility to participate in most sports. Her stamina was overshadowed by her lack of finesse. When it came to school itself, Dawn enjoyed academic challenges. Her lack of friendships and disinterest in sports made it easy for Dawn to become a dedicated student. So it came as a complete shock when Gran received a phone call that Dawn was being suspended for a week after getting into a fight. Adele arrived in a huff, completely flabbergasted as to why her quiet ward had suddenly engaged in fisticuffs when Dawn would insist on “relocating” spiders as opposed to killing them. The principal was quick to let Adele know that not only had Dawn been in a fight, but that she had initiated it.

 

During lunch, one of the many Rattray children had decided to annoy the “outcast” table and today, Dawn happened to be their topic of choice.

 

“Jason is hot and all but he is seriously impaired because of his sisters. I mean, could you imagine being married into that freak show?” Tami crowed, pausing for all her cronies to laugh. Leaning in, she continued, “I mean, you live with her Dawnie, is she crazy or just plain retarded?”

 

“You are going to want to shut your mouth.” Like the low warning growl of a dog, it rendered Tami momentarily speechless. Amelia glanced over at her friend as she continued to calmly eat her sushi as though they were casually discussing the weather.

 

“What did you say?” Tami sneered, betting that Dawn would back down.

 

Dawn took a long drink of water before meeting Tami’s eyes, “I said you better shut your mouth lest someone shuts it for you.”

 

“Excuse me?” Standing, Tami towered over her prey before glancing at her mindless minions. “Guess you’re some kind of a freak too. No wonder no one wants you except the Addams family! You were probably abandoned by some crazy cult so you fit right in.”

 

Dawn stood toe to toe with her. “You can insult me all you want, you inbred piece of trailer trash, but don’t you dare bring my family into it.”

 

Now Tami was like a dog with a bone, latching onto her enemy’s weakness. “Watch out, girls, maybe it’s contagious, don’t want to get retard on you!”

 

Smiling, she leaned into Dawn to deliver the killing insult. “It’s a good thing Sookie is not completely unfortunate looking because otherwise her cunt would be as useless as tits on a bull.”

 

Tami made two mistakes in that moment. One, she didn’t recognize Dawn as a threat. Two, she stepped within arms reach.

 

Dawn lashed out quickly, bursting into movement so suddenly that Amelia didn’t even register what had happened until it was over. One second Tami was being a bitch and the next, she was splayed out on the floor after Dawn delivered a single sucker punch to the girl’s face. There was a moment of complete shock as bloody trickled out of Tami’s nose before her face screwed up and she began to scream in pain and teachers came running, leaving Dawn completely stunned as to her actions.

 

Amelia protested her friend’s innocence saying that she had been goaded into a fight, but the school had a strict no violence policy, so any physical altercation resulted in suspension regardless of whether or not the student had started the fight or acted in self defense. Before being ushered back to class, Amelia gifted Dawn one of her precious cat stickers, which in Amelia language was an act of praise.

 

Dawn had it stuck to her chest like a badge of honor when Gran arrived. Once the entire situation had been explained to her, Adele still tried to advocate for Dawn, but a week suspension was the minimum punishment for her actions. Although she understood her motives, Gran did not condone violence and had Dawn wake up with her namesake every day and supplied a list of chores she had to complete until dinner. Dawn sat at the table half asleep before going upstairs, showering, and collapsing in bed.

 

Feeling at least partially responsible, Sookie followed her up one night and told her the truth. Considering she wasn’t able to prove it the way she normally could, Dawn accepted it as truth quickly and without comment, as though having a sibling having a supernatural ability was old news.

 

The best thing to come out of the situation was when Sookie caught Tara giving Dawn advice on how to throw a better punch next time. The two girls were by no means friends, but Dawn’s willingness to defend Sookie and her whole hearted acceptance of her abilities made Tara respect her.

 

With the fight being the main exception, socially and academically Dawn flew mostly under the radar for the rest of her high school career, except when it came to her language courses. She began a year behind in language education, which luckily didn’t serve as much of an issue as it was only required as a course for two years. Embracing Louisiana culture, Dawn chose French and, to everyone’s surprise, quickly flew past her classmates in comprehension and fluency. Her joy in discovering a new language led her to take a Spanish course as an elective as well as learning Latin in her spare time with the parish priest in town.

 

As graduation approached, Dawn began looking into going to school to pursue languages in the hopes of working as a humanitarian. The financial situation being what it was, Dawn had been banking on getting a full scholarship in order to attend any university, or risk having to rely on student loans that would put her into deep debt. But, as it turns out, all the worrying was for naught.

 

“Dawn Stackhouse, graduating with full honors, to attend Texas A&M University.”

 

Sookie practically sprung to her feet, bouncing up and down as she clapped so hard her hands hurt. She turned to beam at Gran and wove their arms together as they laughed and cheered. Jason had a ridiculous giant foam sports finger and was hooting away as Tara was reluctantly clapping beside him. Despite her face, Sookie gleaned from her thoughts that Tara was happy for Dawn considering she knew how hard the girl had worked for it. LaFayette rounded out the group, throwing confetti and shouting accolades as Dawn stumbled across the stage, practically tripping over her own feet in the shoes LaFayette bullied her into as she smiled and shook hands with the dean before accepting her diploma. Catching Gran’s eye, Dawn moved the tassel on her cap and waved before descending back into the audience.  

 

Later, when the ceremony was over, they found Dawn doing a little celebratory dance with Amelia. The two were giggling like mad, but Sookie could tell that her sister would miss her friend. Luckily Amelia was headed to Tulane University in New Orleans, which meant that the two would both easily be able to see each other when they were home.

 

Once she spotted Gran, she immediately lunged at the woman, hugging her tightly.

 

“Goodness Dawn, you squeeze any harder and my head is sure to pop off!” Gran groused, although Sookie didn’t need to be a mind reader to see how proud she was of Dawn.

 

“I just-- I can’t believe I did it. And it’s all thanks to you,” Dawn said, pulling away to look Gran in the eyes. “Seriously, you are my hero.”

 

“Alright, ladies, break it up. Can’t have you crying yet, we haven’t even gotten to eat Gran’s pie-- now that is something to cry over,” Jason said, pulling Dawn away so he could fold her into his tight embrace.

 

“I’m understanding what Gran was saying earlier about her head popping off. Jason, let me down!” Dawn squirmed in Jason’s hold, turning red from glee and embarrassment as her brother practically hoisted her up in the air.

 

“Nah, let everyone see how amazing you are. Full scholarship!” Jason shouted triumphantly at the crowd before releasing Dawn. “Now you’ll be able to teach me how to speak to girls in other languages.”

 

“Lord knows he doesn't need any help in that category. Plus, they probably think your accent is cute in an uncultivated sort of way,” Lafayette said, bumping his hip against Dawn and joining in for a quick celebratory dance that had Dawn giggling. “You did it sunshine, we’re all real proud of you.”

 

“Well it takes a village-- everything I have is because of y’all. And I couldn’t be more proud to have you all as a family. I am truly blessed.”

 

Dawn met Sookie’s eyes and smiled, stepping forward into her sister’s embrace. The two held on tight and Sookie whispered, “I am so proud of you. You are gonna be amazing and out of this place and living your own life. You have to be strong. I want you to live , for me. For all of us.”

 

“I promise.” Dawn said, pressing Sookie’s words into her heart. She glanced over at the rest of the family celebrating together before flinging her arm around Sookie’s shoulder. “You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other.”

 

“We will,” her own arm circled around Dawn’s waist. “Besides, whatever happens in Bon Temps?”

Chapter Text

 

 

 


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THREE:
Texts from Sookie, I: Strange Love

 

 

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Chapter Text


9507809-E-8-ABF-46-C4-B1-C7-57-B09-EEF909-E

FOUR:
Texts from Dawn, I: The First Taste/Mine

 

 


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