Timing is Everything

So an anon asked me to look at the timeline of Club Dead. I actually worked this one out a while ago to discern Bill’s level of culpability etc. because I wanted to know how it was that Bill’s movements went – they were kinda confusing. Since someone asked for it, I wrote it, and this one was easy – no speculation involved. ūüėÄ It just poured out of me easily, because I had it down already. I’m thinking about another post at the moment that’s going to take a little longer to work out, but this one was easy, so I figured I’d hammer it out.

Now, I should preface this with reiterating that I don’t hate Bill – at all. He’s not right for Sookie due to how much he gets the shit aggravated out of him by her nature, but I don’t see him as pure evil, any more than I do Eric. Just so I’m clear too, I don’t believe CH would keep him in the suitor race with any thought of reconciling and make him the vampire who raped Sookie – because it’s one thing to explore forgiving your rapist, and another to ship a rapist and his victim, however unintentional said rapist was. I should point out that even Sookie herself ruled him out right about here:

Judith raised her eyebrows and stepped over my threshold.
“You must love Bill, or else you’re a fool,” she said.
“Neither, I hope. You want some True Blood?”

Dead in the Family, p. 247

Really, there’s no reason to beat the living hell out of Bill and worship at the cult of virginity on Eric’s behalf. Sookie and Bill can be good friends who shared a relationship just like Eric and Pam are – and Eric killed Pam. I wish fanfic would stop putting Bill out as the bad guy, and the only one to be hated when there’s plenty of hateful vampires like Mickey still around. Particularly since rape or not, virginity taking or not, Eric still uses Bill. If¬†Pam and Sookie can get past it, fans can too, right? *Sigh*

First off, it’s probably better that I show the underpinnings for my thoughts of Bill and Lorena. We have Eric saying that:

I don’t know if you’ve realized that vampires almost never mate with other
vampires, for any longer than a rare one-night affair.

Club Dead, p. 47

Lorena was unusual in that she kept Bill around for a lot longer, sharing blood and being together. Lorena seems to have been all kinds of obsessed with Bill. But it should also be noted that this is only Eric’s opinion, and not a vampire rule, and certainly not the rule with makers. After all we have Sean and Layla:

“How long have you been partners?”
“In dancing, two years. In life, over a year.”

All Together Dead, p. 235

They’re the couple from Dancers in the Dark – and Sean is Layla’s maker. This is no rare one-night affair – this is Eric’s personal opinion – and Appius and Alexei were together for about 80 years too. And he’s being kinda dodgy about the fact that Lorena is Bill’s maker. That’s another one of his infamous lies through omission. Much like Eric didn’t tell Sookie the story with the Bellefleurs, and why Bill hates that name, he kept Bill’s private business private from Sookie. Eric’s a strictly need-to-know vampire.

But considering what Lorena said about Sookie when they fought, I’d say that she didn’t take kindly to the idea of a human girlfriend, let alone a human girlfriend Bill got tortured trying to protect:

“You must be his little human bitch whore,” she said. “He was fucking me, all this time,
you understand. The minute he saw me, he forgot about you, except for pity.”

Club Dead, p. 206

This is not the catch-cry of a woman who knows Bill loves her and¬†cares for¬†her only. This is jealousy – driving the knife into Sookie because Lorena hates the idea that there’s someone else Bill cares for – enough to defy her for a week. I think that like Appius, Lorena hated the idea of her child moving onto Sookie. After all – she should be the pinnacle of his desires, due to their long term relationship. But instead, he was willing to defy his maker to protect Sookie. I find it telling that both Lorena and Appius butted into their child’s relationship and tried to break it up – that speaks to me of a whole lot of narcissism.

But it should be noted that maker relationships aren’t easy to throw off. They are never one-dimensional. The maker most of the time seems to be similar to an abusive parent, who requires total obedience, but who also cares for their child. Eric makes that bit clear:

“Ocella taught me everything about being a vampire,” Eric said very quietly.
“He taught me how to feed, how to hide, when it was safe to mingle with
humans. He taught me how to make love with men, and later he freed me
to make love with women. He protected me and loved me. He caused
me pain for decades. He gave me life. My maker is dead.”

Dead in the Family, p. 309-310

It’s pain but it’s also nurturing. Note there’s not a sentence about “terrible rapist who murdered me and who I hated with all my heart”. It really is more complex than that – and it’s not just like an abusive parent, who most people tend to throw off after a couple of decades – this is an abusive parent who keeps coming round every couple of hundred years for a millenium.¬†And who the vampire has to obey for all time – until that maker dies.¬†It’s not as simple as just writing that relationship off with “hate”, no matter what fairytales readers want to believe. Eric did not hate Appius wholly and completely, and Bill didn’t hate Lorena like that either.

So I’m going to set this out chronologically, because it isn’t set out chronologically in the books, which is what makes it confusing. Bill has been making the database for some time before Sookie finds it out – he may not have completely¬†computerised it at this stage, but he’s obviously been working on it a while:

Bill returned as I finished up the last bar employee, and he looked just a little pleased,
so I concluded he’d been successful. Bill had been spending most of his waking
hours on the computer lately, which had not been too popular an idea with me.
“The tattooed vampire,” Bill said when Stan and I were the only two left in
the room, “is named Godric, though for the past century he’s gone by Godfrey.
He’s a renouncer.” I don’t know about Stan, but I was impressed. A few
minutes on the computer, and Bill had done a neat piece of detective work.

Living Dead in Dallas, p. 104

This was a ‘bomb in the garden’ that went off in Club Dead. Bill obviously kept the database on his person while he was working on it – and accessed his disk/USB on one of Stan’s computers. But Bill is smart enough to keep everything on the down-low, even from Sookie. He didn’t trust anyone with the information – which is what someone who wants to keep a secret actually does. *coughSookieandHuntercough*.

It seems that Bill had been drawing sketches of vampires for a while, gathering together their stories and such. That’s fine – that would have been something he wouldn’t have tried to hide. But once he started computerising it, then it would have been sensible to hide it – it’s now in a portable, stealable, easy to read format. While Eric is cultivating spies for political gain, I’d say Bill is noting down vampires he meets when he’s on trips with Sookie. Making it so that the database is fuller and well rounded. But Bill realised the value of what he had – and that people would want it.

Then we have the initial contact with Lorena – or at least Bill still being hung up on Lorena. Even if he doesn’t say it outright, he’s not all “I¬†hate Lorena” any more than Eric is all “I hate Appius”:

“I hadn’t seen Lorena since, though I’d heard of her doings, of course.”
“Oh, sure,” I said expressionlessly.

Dead to the World, p. 5

It seems to me that no matter what Bill claims about being the maker type relationship and nothing else, he still follows Lorena and what she’s doing. It seems to me that Lorena is actually in contact with Bill based on this little conversation – because as we see above, Sookie has no freaking clue what Bill’s doing – and we know Eric had no freaking clue either:

“When the queen came to me and said she’d heard I was working on a program
that had never been attempted before, I was flattered,” Bill told me.

<snip>
“Who do you think told her?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t really want to,” Bill said. His voice sounded
offhand, even gentle, but I knew better.

Club Dead, p. 240

Bill didn’t go and offer to do the database for the Queen – it was Sophie Anne who came to him. If Eric knew about the database, he would have locked down Bill so fast his head would spin – and he wouldn’t have let him leave the state in the first place without having his hands on a copy of that database. Except as we see above, Bill seems to have his sole copy of the database in his possession, even in Dallas. Eric never would have allowed that.

So it’s clear to me that Bill had been discussing this database with Lorena. He doesn’t really want to explore that it was Lorena, but she knew about the database before Sookie did – she was torturing him in Mississippi for it before Eric came to Sookie’s house. Lorena then goes to Sophie Anne to try to sell her child’s services (like Appius goes to Freyda to sell his child into marriage – in my mind probably to pay off a debt Alexei has created through going batshit there, and Appius doesn’t carry money). Maybe she tries to be cagey about it, but she wants the money – after all, as Russell tells us:

“I lent her the room in the stable because I’d known her for
a century or two, but she always was a bitch.”

All Together Dead, p. 162

A vampire who gets lent a room doesn’t have money – otherwise she’d use her own money to buy her own fortress, her own weres and not have to give Russell jackshit. For whatever reason, Lorena is stony broke and can’t afford her own place. Maybe she had a Longshadow of her own who took everything she had, or she killed a vampire she shouldn’t have, and she’s got nothing. So she goes to Sophie Anne to get money. But the Queen is too cagey for her – she doesn’t hand money to Lorena – she goes to Bill and offers to pay for the database.

Lorena finds out that Bill has gotten an offer from the Queen, and knows she’s been had, and there’s no payday coming. Bill is still talking to her, so of course, he tells her about this generous offer from the Queen. Whatever else Bill is, he’s obedient to his royal – like Eric, he has a form of honour with that. Now Lorena probably knows that any sensible vampire would keep a valuable database on their person, and so she thinks she’ll see Bill, order the database to be produced, and now Sophie Anne has¬†to go through Lorena. And she tells him to come to meet her in Mississippi, because this is no immediate answer of the call of the maker:

“I am going to…Seattle soon,” Bill said. I could feel his cool lips touch the place
my ponytail had brushed. He was lying. “When I come back, we’ll talk.”

Club Dead, p. 8

There’s none of the urgency that we see Mickey have when he is called by his maker. Mickey didn’t hold out for a couple of days and talk of “soon” – he went almost immediately, even though he resisted for a couple of minutes. So I don’t think Lorena did call Bill at this stage. I think that what was more likely is he thought he could get away for a quick visit with an old flame. Bill can get a bit evasive, and “soon” doesn’t speak to threats to kill and summoning to be with someone. Otherwise Bill wouldn’t have waited for “soon” – he’d be saying this going out the front door or “tomorrow night”.

As Eric tells us, it’s not just talk and arranging flights¬†– a maker’s order is an order:

“And of course, he was my sire. I had to obey.” Eric shrugged.
“Is that a mystical thing or a made-up rule?” I asked,
curiosity finally getting the better of me.
“It’s both,” Eric said. “It’s a compulsion. It’s impossible to resist,
even when you want to…even when you’re desperate to get away.”

Dead and Gone, pp. 89-90

I just don’t see Bill being compelled, and thinking “soon”. I also highly doubt that Lorena would work things out on Bill’s schedule either. She’s the boss – and she has been for many, many years. She’s not a kind and caring woman either. And for all of Bill’s talk of how it’s a maker thing, he’s still talking to Lorena on the sly, telling her about the database so she can sell him out to Sophie Anne.

It’s my thinking that he thought to go see Lorena, catch up on old times and see what she wants. I’ve pointed out before that Bill, unlike Sookie, has some wanderlust. He enjoys socialising, and he likes trips. He doesn’t like staying in one spot, and he loves vampire company:

But tonight, excited by the trip, by the imminent excursion, Bill’s speed had greatly accelerated.
Living Dead in Dallas, p. 64

In fact, Bill finds travelling so reinvigorating, that while Sookie sat in her house and hugged her routine like a teddy bear post-torture, Bill went travelling and seeing new sights:

“Yes. I’ve got a little more research to do. A very old vampire in Lima has a great
fund of knowledge about those of our race on his continent, and I have an
appointment to confer with him. I’ll do some sight-seeing while I’m down there.”

Dead to the World, p. 3

Even though the Queen ordered him to Peru, it’s not just business. I could see Bill taking a trip, seeing new sights, to forget his troubles, his torture, and the death of his maker. For as much as Bill is house proud, and he sticks to Sookie, ordinarily Bill finds it far more enjoyable to travel. While Eric works 12/7 – at home or Fangtasia, Bill is the type to travel the world and see new things. If you want to ship a suitor who will expand Sookie’s horizons, Bill’s your guy. Eric’ll stay home and micromanage Fangtasia. Hell – he doesn’t even want to move to Oklahoma. ūüėõ

So Bill goes off to see Lorena, happy to be going on a trip, and thinking because there’s no compulsion, he’s not going to resume his relationship with Lorena. Like many a man or woman who’s slipped, they have the best of intentions, and overconfidence in their willpower. The minute he sees Lorena again, boom:

“He was-he became-instantly enthralled with her, all over again.
Club Dead, p. 47

Bill doesn’t have as much willpower as he thought. Lorena has the same draw for him she always had – he’s obsessed with her just like she is with him. That’s the effect from the blood sharing – which even Eric says gives power over each other. We can see with Sookie that sharing blood for a significant tie makes you think about the person every single day – as she thinks of Eric every sunset with the blood bond. Lorena and Bill have shared so much blood, and had so much sex it must be like a lightning strike when they meet, no matter what willpower Bill thinks he has.

Now, Lorena has set Bill to come to her with a purpose. He was supposed to be having the database on his person, just like any sensible vampire would. But Bill has someone he trusts, who won’t sell him out – he’s stashed the database at Sookie’s house – on the off chance Lorena’s pulling a fast one:

I looked down into the black box below. It was full: Bill’s
computer, a box of disks, even his monitor and printer.
So Bill had foreseen this might happen,
and he’d hidden his work before he’d left.

Club Dead, p. 32

He might be obsessed with her, but Bill’s no fool – he’d know that the timing would be suspicious. ¬†After all, he’s sold it to the Queen, so it’s hers. Bill’s probably signed contracts and such. Best to leave it in Louisiana in the house of his human. Lorena and Bill get back together¬†– and that too seems to be Bill’s choice:

“That you were planning on leaving me. Yes. They told me.”
“I already got paid back for that piece of madness,” Bill said.

Club Dead, p. 239

Saying it’s a ‘piece of madness’ doesn’t imply “I had no choice” – it means it was a choice to take up with Lorena again – by Bill’s own admission. Seeing how much blood Bill shared with her, and how unsure of his genuine uncoerced feelings he is – heh, no wonder Sookie didn’t trust the bond Andre imposed. Bill has conveyed that sentiment quite well. And since¬†neither Bill nor Eric have informed her about blood bonds, despite being neck and neck at the beginning of¬†All Together Dead for blood feeding sessions, I’d start cobbling together what I know and distrusting all this blood sharing too.

I envision that Bill said¬†he was going home to arrange stuff without explicitly telling Lorena that he was going to pension off his human, and turn the database over to its rightful owner – Sophie Anne. Bill’s back and enthralled, feeling the madness of his obsession with Lorena, and he probably genuinely thinks that she’s enthralled with him, as simple as that. I don’t think he’d jump to the conclusion that it’s all for ulterior motives, because they’ve had a long relationship. I don’t see him cataloguing what he’s going to do when he gets home either – because all he’s thinking about is coming back.

I don’t think Lorena would like that at all. But unfortunately for her, Bill’s followed all the protocol, and everyone pertinent in Louisiana (ie. Eric) knows he’s with Lorena. So Lorena needs to buy time and ‘lose’ Bill so that she can get the database out of him. Long gone is the lover and old flame who’s making things easy for him – now comes the maker who’s going to force him to obey. But in the meantime, she has to give Eric the bait and switch, otherwise Eric will tell the Queen Bill’s moving back to Seattle, and Sophie Anne will get her hands on that database – and Lorena is still broke.

So Lorena arranges for the ballsup at the airport that Eric heard about – the switch of Bill’s coffin with Betty Jo Pickard’s, and Bill is left sitting off to the side while they screw around:

The humans responsible for taking her coffin to the airport took Bill’s identical coffin
by mistake. When they delivered the coffin to the hangar Anubis Airlines leases,
they left it unguarded for perhaps ten minutes while they were filling out paperwork.

Club Dead, p. 41

So Bill was kidnapped by Russell’s weres, with the obfuscation of those humans who picked up Betty Jo – and she’s Russell’s lieutenant. Thankfully for Lorena, Eric acts as expected and doesn’t tell his Queen Bill’s gone missing with Lorena – she’s used the system to keep him quiet and give her lead time:

“So, why isn’t this queen looking for Bill?” I asked, keeping my voice carefully neutral.
“She doesn’t know he’s gone.”
“Why is that?”
“We haven’t told her.”
Sooner or later he’d quit answering. “Why not?”
“She would punish us.”

Club Dead, p. 51

Eric doesn’t know what the special project is – or that Lorena has taken it to Sophie Anne – but he knows how to keep himself out of trouble¬†– and give Lorena some time to torture Bill for the database. After all – without Sookie, Eric wouldn’t have gotten Bill back. It was Sookie who worked that plan and got Eric out of the shit. Take out Sookie, and Lorena’s plan would have worked.

So Bill wakes up, and that’s when I think she started compelling him and threatening him and stopping him from going home to Sookie:

“She ordered me to leave you,” he said. His dark eyes were peering into mine.
“She said she would kill you if I didn’t.”

Dead to the World, p. 5

Bill gives the “my maker made me do it” line way too late. He’s contradicted by his calling it a ‘piece of madness’ and his ‘soon’. Since we know that Bill will lie to make himself look better, and try to keep the truth from Sookie, I see this as partially truthful, but with an eye to getting back into Sookie’s good graces again. If Bill had claimed he was forced from the get-go, I might be inclined to believe that right from the first, he was ordered, and Lorena gave him no choice. But this is Bill offering his explanation long after the horse has bolted, and Sookie staked her arse and dumped her in the pool.

I think Bill is using part of the truth to get things going his way, because now he has only Sookie as his choice. And maybe now his maker is dead, and the blood tie and power they shared is gone, Bill really is committed to Sookie. But the fact that he’s been talking with Lorena, telling her about the database way before he told Sookie? This is emotional infidelity at best. Bill might have kept his dick in his pants, but he obviously told Lorena a lot of stuff and was in contact with her, telling her secrets he didn’t tell his neglected-feeling girlfriend long before there was any maker orders flying around. So I think she did use compulsion on him, but only when her feminine wiles didn’t work for her.

Obviously, Lorena wouldn’t leap into the torture without trying out her maker’s power of compulsion first. And then the torture. I must say, Bill is quite impressive. I don’t imagine that Lorena started torturing him within fifteen minutes of compelling him – I think she ordered him to stay and then started threatening Bill’s human, and then graduated onto torturing Bill. But I’d say he’d been tortured over about a week – and it was only when he wasn’t breaking and telling the name of his human girlfriend that it really started to become nasty:

I don’t know why they came after you. But I suspect it means Bill is alive,
and they wanted to grab you to use as leverage over him.

Club Dead, p. 49

Bill says himself that he felt that he owed Sookie that – and again, I think this is an impressive feat of sheer willpower and gumption that even Eric praises:

“They didn’t know the name of Bill’s human girlfriend. You were faithful.”
“I hadn’t been faithful in other ways,” Bill said bleakly.
“I thought it was the least I could do for her.”

Club Dead, p. 270

In the meantime, various weres in the bunkhouse off the stable are torturing Bill, including Debbie Pelt:

Pam went on. “You object to her presence?”
“She joined in while I was being tortured in the king of Mississippi’s
compound,” Bill said. “She enjoyed my pain.”

Dead to the World, p. 219

All of this would have been concurrent with Eric coming to see Sookie, and Sookie coming to Jackson to try to find Bill. It would have been about half a week to a week. Lorena doesn’t strike me as overly patient and kind. And poor Bill would have felt a bit of a fool to be looking to hook up with an old flame who tortured him so she could make money.

As for the second part of the question – how did Debbie Pelt know to be in Alcide’s garage to shove Sookie into a car trunk? Well, Debbie is a were who has the ability to smell blood and vampire. Other supes often complain about the strong smell of vampires:

‚ÄúSmell of vampire had deadened my nose,‚ÄĚ Diantha said.
That made sense to Dahlia. Though the scent of vampire
was naturally delightful to her, she had been told many
times that it was overwhelming to other supernaturals.

Death by Dahlia, Down These Strange Streets, pp. 46-47

Sookie comments on the faint dry smell of vampire hanging around outside the door of Fangtasia, and Dermot complains bitterly about the smell too. On top of that, Debbie had tortured this vampire. She’d probably be able to smell generic vampire, Bill’s smell, the blood and burnt bits of flesh. He’d be like an olfactory party in a were’s nose.

As to how she knew to push Sookie into the trunk in this garage? Obviously, Debbie doesn’t belong to Jerry Falcon’s wolf pack. But she’s stalkery enough and crazy enough to come round to Alcide’s place and try to¬†kill his new girlfriend or get Alcide back. That’s Debbie’s modus operandi. So she comes round to scope out what’s going on, and happens to see Sookie standing over a trunk with a huge scent of injured vampire, and decides to take her opportunity. In fact Debbie has been all over Alcide’s family already:

“Debbie stopped by his sister’s house last night to grill her about you. Alcide’s
sister likes you very much,” Eric said in a tiny whisper. “This angers the
shape-shifter Debbie. She is insulting his sister in front of him.”

Club Dead, p. 236

Debbie being there is not a surprise – and if she could have broken Sookie’s neck and stuffed her in the closet, like Jerry Falcon, she probably would have. She was a psychotically jealous woman who went way too far and was way too cruel. Even if she didn’t know that Bill himself was in the car trunk, she surely would have smelled vampire – and dumping a human into a dark space with a vampire in the middle of winter isn’t going to go down so well anyway.

So, that’s how I envision that the whole Bill/Lorena thing went down. I don’t believe that Bill has been one hundred percent truthful about when it was free will, and when it was forcing. Because that doesn’t serve his purposes well, and Bill is ever the guy to take shortcuts to get what he wants – like Selah and the jealousy he caused in Sookie. Of course, if I can see this, Sookie can too – and even now she doubts Bill’s veracity:

“Do you really love me?” I said, out of either insanity or sheer curiosity.
“Or have we just been through¬† so much you think you ought to?”

Dead Reckoning, p. 159

This is ever Bill’s problem – he made it difficult to tease out the strands of how much was following orders and obligation when it came to Lorena, the Queen, and to his love. Quite apart from the fact that I don’t see Sookie going back to Bill because of CH’s history as a rape victim, I don’t see Sookie ignoring Bill’s sheer dodginess, and the changing story of whether it was obligation to one’s maker, Queen or girlfriend, or which bits are really true. I’m glad he had a chance to prove that Sookie meant something to him by rescuing her in the Fae war, but for me, his timing is everywhere. And timing is everything.

Edit: As to the idea that Bill would be forced by Lorena right from the get-go, I missed a quote that’s relevant in my rush:

“If I’m not back, or if you don’t get word from me, in say…eight weeks
– yes, eight weeks, then tell Eric everything I said to you today.”

Club Dead, pp. 7-8

If Bill was being forced, he gave his captor 8 weeks of lead time to torture him for the database. This is why I think he was intending to catch up with an old flame he felt good about. Covering your bases and your arse is what vampires do. Bill considered it as a possibility, but he gave himself a lot of time to screw around with Lorena first, suggesting to me that he didn’t believe it was going to be gangbusters torture the minute he got to “Seattle”.

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