Tara feels vaguely ridiculous walking up to the Compton house -- excuse me, the King's goddamn mansion -- with a six-pack of True Blood under her arm, but she keeps her head up straight and glares at the guards. They obviously know who she is. They don't ask for ID or bar her way. One of them offers an "evening, Ms. Thornton" as she walks by, but she ignores him.
To her surprise, Jessica opens the front door herself. "Tara! I didn't know if you would come."
"Is this a bad time?" Tara asks, immediately wary. Did Jessica not really mean the invitation?
"No, it's great, I don't have anything planned tonight, this is perfect." Jessica takes a step away from the door, beckoning.
Tara's braced to discover that this is another door she can't walk through, but there's no force field keeping her out. She enters easily.
"I thought you might need to invite me in."
"Nah," Jessica says breezily. "Bill's house. Vamp-owned."
"I still hate the door thing."
"I know. You get used to it, kinda." Jessica shrugs. "You go to the places where you know you're welcome."
"So not all that different from my previous life," Tara says drily.
"Here, let me take that," Jessica offers, taking the sixpack from Tara's hands and leading her toward one of the side rooms off the foyer.
"It's a mixed six."
"Aw, thank you!" Jessica beams at her. "You remembered! Here, have a seat," and Tara plunks herself down on one of the blue couches. "What's your poison?"
"Whatever, I don't care." True Blood is like fast food -- the nutrients are there, but it's not particularly good.
Jessica pours them each the same mix of O neg and B pos, then hands one to Tara. "Cheers," she says, and they clink glasses.
"So -- I haven't been a vamp that long, but if there's anything you want to know, anything Pam hasn't told you about," Jessica begins earnestly. It's kind of sweet, actually, and there's a word Tara never would've imagined applying to Jessica Hamby in a million years.
"How did it happen to you?" Tara feels weirdly shy, asking that question. She never thought to ask before. She never wanted to know. But now every time she meets a vampire she wonders. It's like a coming-out story. You know every dyke has one.
"I went to some stupid party," Jessica says. "I grew up real Christian? So I wasn't allowed to do anything fun. And then I snuck out of the house."
"You got vamped at a party?" Tara isn't sure whether to be amused or horrified.
"Oh! No, I got kidnapped afterwards," Jessica says blithely. "They took me to a Tribunal. Bill had staked one of Eric's employees, and he'd never been a Maker, so the Magister made him turn me."
"Yeah. It was awesome." Jessica's eyes are cheerful. "I mean, not at first -- at first it was like all the worst parts of being a teenager again, kill me now -- but now I can't imagine going back."
Tara isn't sure how to respond, so she takes another swig.
"And you got shot protecting Sookie." Jessica says it gently, but the words still make a chill run up Tara's spine.
"Yeah. 'Cause it wasn't bad enough when her brother shot my boyfriend. I had to get myself shot in the head. Being Sookie's friend is fucked up."
Jessica doesn't disagree. "Do you remember it happening?"
Tara grimaces. "Not consciously? But I -- " She stops.
Jessica looks worried.
Fuck. "I dream about it," Tara admits. "Sometimes when I first wake up after sundown, I bolt awake and all I can think of is losing all that blood." Warm sticky wetness all over her, and no ability to move. The sudden certainty that her frantic heart was pumping her life out the place where the back of her head had been blown clean off.
"Oh, honey." Jessica's voice is kind. "That sounds awful." It takes Tara a moment to realize that the sympathy is real; Jessica isn't fucking with her, she really means it. "That happens, the first few months, but the dreams go away after a while. Bill said it's your brain trying to make sense of what happened, is all."
"You mean I'm gonna keep dreaming about Sookie and Lafayette screaming while all that blood pours down the back of my neck?"
"So you do remember."
"I remember that much," Tara says, and chugs the rest of her bottle. "Fuck me. Isn't there any way to get drunk anymore?"
"Not on this." Jessica's voice is rueful. "But joints still work -- you want to smoke some weed?"
Several long drags on a joint later, Tara closes her eyes. It's buzzing through her just like it used to, and it feels so good to be experiencing something familiar that she's afraid her eyes are going to start watering with bloody tears.
"I don't want the dreams," she admits. Saying it with her eyes closed feels safer. "Remembering losing all that blood--"
"Makes you feel a little queasy, don't it?" Jessica's voice is slow as syrup. She's got to be even more stoned than Tara is.
"This is fucked up, but--" Tara plunges on. "Queasy, and also kinda hungry."
"We can go out and find a snack later, if you want."
Tara opens her eyes; Jessica is draped over the side of the couch, her eyes alight with anticipation.
"I know some college boys you could eat up with a spoon."
"I don't think that's a good idea," Tara demurs.
"Or college girls," Jessica offers. "If that's more your thing."
Tara swallows hard, suddenly awash in imagination. A girl's head tipped to the side. A human pulse, beating. The unspeakable thrill of her fangs pushing out of her mouth, then into a warm living neck. The rush of blood, living, ecstatic. The rush. The blood.
"I don't have a lot of practice. I don't want to take too much."
"I'll be there, I can keep an eye on you. C'mon," Jessica wheedles. "It'll be fun."
Who is she fooling? From the minute Jessica suggested it, she was going to say yes. "What the hell," Tara says, and then grins when Jessica whoops and leaps to her feet, reaching a hand down to pull Tara out of the deep couch.
"Let's go get some blood!" Jessica yells.
Maybe she's just high, but for once -- for the first time since this all started -- Tara doesn't think 'fuck my life' as she grabs her purse and follows Jessica into the warm Louisiana night.