Deconstructing a Deal

I did intend to post this one quickly, and it’s been obstructing me something fierce. But my chicken finger actually started peeling and the skin underneath was soooo sensitive. So I didn’t post, because I wanted to keep typing to a minimum. I haven’t been able to stop pondering this one. I’m also going to answer a related question from the text file, because it goes with this subject. I tend to be lazy like that, as you can see from some of my long-arse sentences. Jamming thoughts in together with no consideration if they can all fit. This is my text file question:

How did a vamp like ALO end up in OK in the first place to negotiate with the queen?

So firstly, let’s go with Appius, and I’ll explain how I see him based on the text. That impinges on how I see Appius ending up in Oklahoma. For my part, I see him as the sort of jealous toad maker, and that impacts how he treats Eric, and why he would do that in the first place. One only need to observe how he acts when he first arrives in Sookie’s house:

“Yes, but then I wouldn’t have seen such a charming sight.”
Ocella let his gaze brush Eric’s shirtless body almost tangibly.

Dead in the Family, p. 167

There is a distinct message here – one that Appius is trying to send Sookie – that he lusts for Eric’s body, that he enjoys her jealousy, and that he has rights and first dibs every single time. I mean, this is almost like a jealous ex-girlfriend here, making sure to send the message that they used to have good times, and that he still lusts for Eric. Most of the vampire makers are like crazy jealous ex-partners – Lorena didn’t take too kindly to Sookie being with Bill, and Hot Rain sent someone to kill something Eric loved. Lorena, Hot Rain and Appius are some of the villains worthy of the sort of behaviour of Debbie Pelt, right? And that’s exactly who most of them act like – jealous exes with a desire to kill someone for daring to be more important.

Moreover, Appius lets Sookie know that he can feel and enjoy this jealousy that he creates and makes a point to tell her so:

“I feel your anger,” Ocella said.
“I don’t care,” I said, without turning to face him.

Dead in the Family, p. 169

This is part of the power play on the page. It’s not spelled out explicitly, because that would make for lazy readers. But the reason why Appius allows this to go is that he knows he’s making Sookie angry, and he knows exactly how much power she has in the situation. That’s part of the reason why he turned up to the house in the first place. No point in having an emotional victory defeating Sookie if he can’t see the knife twisting. And that’s why Sookie reacts the way that she did. She knows what Appius is doing too, and she doesn’t want to deny it and give him an even bigger belt out of the anger he’s caused.

Now, I’m aware that Appius and Eric were never a couple as such, but Appius doesn’t see Eric as a person, he sees him as an object, an object owned by him. The jealousy persists not because they were truly in love, but because Eric has always been Appius’ object. Whether Eric likes Appius ogling him or not is not the point. The point is that Appius is actually competing with Sookie:

“You won’t keep Eric, either.”
Dead in the Family, p. 306

Yes, yes. He’s talking Freyda. But the point is that Appius obviously sees Sookie as his competition. Otherwise he wouldn’t be concerned about who Eric is with or not. The inherent idea that Eric is his object, and that Sookie won’t be owning his object any more is a key feature of Appius on the page. I think perhaps it’s easy to miss since so much is going on. But this is yet another shot at Sookie over the issue – that Appius will win because he knows Eric loves him most. Combine that with the fact that Eric stays away from Sookie while Appius is in town, I think Eric is well aware of the same jealousy that Appius has.

After all, when Eric is sold off to Oklahoma, he won’t be with Appius for the most part. Eric would have to be the second of Freyda, so he won’t be travelling with Eric around the world. He’ll be sending Eric somewhere else. So Appius just wants Eric the hell away from Sookie, even if it’s not with him. This is romantic jealousy, plain and simple. It’s “if I can’t have him, neither can you”. The whole act of selling Eric into marriage with Freyda is one big jealous power play by Appius. Even if Eric is with Freyda, it’s ultimately because Appius is more important than Sookie is.

Well, you say, that’s because as a maker he would order Eric to go there. I don’t think so. Eric did as he was told without any need for maker’s orders:

“So you’re just going to sit home because he said so?”
<snip>
“Ocella asked this of me,” Eric said, and he glared at me.
“So, he asked? That doesn’t sound like a direct order to me. It sounds
like a request. Correct me if I’m wrong,” I said, as snarkily as I could.
“No,” Eric said through clenched teeth. I could feel his anger rising.
“It was not a direct order.”

Dead in the Family, p. 297

Even though he’s sitting there, weeping because Appius could die, and is terribly worried that his maker would die, he just goes along. And even after Appius is dead, he’s still using that line when it comes to his marriage with Freyda. I assert that if Appius was still alive, Eric would have just done what he was told. No need for orders you can’t refuse – and Eric is still using the line that it was his maker’s wishes. Telling Eric to go to Oklahoma and Eric going of his own free will was a power play – and it looks like when he was there, Eric was resigned to going. He certainly didn’t brainstorm with Sookie about how to get out of this marriage – he just made some cryptic remarks.

That tells me that Eric is more or less used to following Appius’ orders without needing to be forced. No matter how ‘strong’ you think Eric is, you come to sympathise with the abuser. Much like what happens in Dark Eric fic, the abusive Eric doesn’t love Sookie any more than Appius loves Eric. And the Sookie in that fic just comes to learn to do what she’s told, so she won’t get beatings. Fic doesn’t intentionally do that though – while CH does. She’s aware that taking Eric out of his element and giving him to Appius is going to create strong sympathy in Eric for Appius. He’s not constantly being told what to do – it’s become par for the course that Master is always there, and that he should do what he’s told.

It’s my personal thoughts that Appius has been doing this shit to Eric for a thousand years. He’s so damn jealous that he turns up and makes sure Eric stays alone for his life, only having Appius as the important person in his life. After all, we see that Pam says this about Eric’s other child:

“I think he was lonely,” she said, a faint note of surprise in her
voice. “His last companion had struck out on her own, since
children can’t stay with their maker for long.”

All Together Dead, p. 88

That doesn’t really explain why Eric didn’t recall his other child to work with him at Fangtasia, instead of Pam. And it seems that Eric didn’t talk about it with Pam. It’s my personal thought that Eric’s other child was driven off by Appius, much like Judith was with Bill and Lorena. I think Appius turned up periodically to make sure he was still uppermost in Eric’s mind, and drove away any woman who might come close to taking his place. He had to be number one for Eric’s entire lifetime, and made sure Eric was lonely.

So it’s my thought that Appius was heading for Louisiana in the first place – hence why he was in Oklahoma. I think not only Alexei’s benefit brought him there. After all, it sounds like Alexei and Appius’ cheese was sliding off their crackers years previously:

“Perhaps we weren’t thinking clearly. When you’ve been out of the world so long…”
Dead in the Family, p. 173

For many years Alexei has been getting worse and worse, and frankly, Appius isn’t much better. Coming now, in the context that he did shows that this problem has been going on a while, and it’s only now that it became pressing for Appius to solve the problem of what to do with a young boy you murdered years ago and sent halfway insane. That’s a very flimsy pretext for coming to visit, and again, sounds like a jealous ex who had to come to his favourite coffee shop in your neighbourhood because it makes the best coffee. And like a jealous ex, Appius isn’t going to turn up and say why he’s there in the first place. I also find it telling that he declares this right out of the gate:

“He’s already much better,” Ocella murmured.
“Eric, your presence is doing him so much good.”

Dead in the Family, p. 168

Considering that same night Alexei throws a fit at the graveside of Basim, and he’s still losing it nights later and massacring the lot of them, this is all so much shit. This is a case – to me – of the lady doth protest too much. Appius feels he has to give a reason as to why he’s there five minutes after arriving, so he doesn’t look like a jealous ex. You only do that if you’re a jealous ex, rather than two thousand year old vampire who doesn’t have justify shit to anyone.

So, as I say, he was already heading to Louisiana because of stuff he’d been hearing the gossip – which is rampant:

“I heard a little at Fangtasia about the blond woman Eric values so highly. Eric has
such a hard nose that it didn’t seem likely any human woman could interest him.”
“So how’d you know I was going to be here, at this wedding, tonight?”

<snip>
“The young woman who works for Eric, his child Pam, mentioned it,” he said.
Liar, liar, pants on fire, I thought. I hadn’t talked to Pam in a couple of
weeks, and our last conversation hadn’t been girlish chatter
about my social and work schedule.

From Dead to Worse, pp. 27-28

Jonathan is clearly lying about the gossip he heard – he didn’t hear it at Fangtasia from Pam, that’s for sure. So that tells us just exactly how far that gossip about Eric and Sookie is going. I doubt Jonathan heard it from someone the night before in order to get invited to the wedding – I’d say about a week earlier, at the very least, and thus, I doubt he heard it in Louisiana at all. That information has gotten to Nevada, and who else knows where. And when Eric married Sookie, who knows how much of a ripple that one made in the gossip circles – I can’t think there are many vampires married to humans under vampire law, right? They’re married under human law.

So Appius hears about this blonde woman Eric values so highly, and thinks “Nope”, hightails it to Louisiana so he can stuff it up. On the way, I’m thinking that Alexei was having his usual fits, and thus Freyda used that as an entree to making a contract with Appius. Appius didn’t go to her – she came to him:

“When Appius Livius Ocella came through Oklahoma with his bumboy,
I took the opportunity to open a discussion with him.”

Deadlocked, p. 173

So Alexei has a fit and kills a bunch of people, Freyda generously lets it all go, and then after making nice, they make the contract together. It serves Appius’ purpose of stuffing everything up with Sookie, and since he has Alexei, he hardly needs Eric again. It wasn’t about making sure to get Eric something that would be good for him – Appius just needs to be on top of the hierarchy of who Eric loves more. It’s all a power trip for him, as Eric says:

“Not that my maker cares about my position in this country,” Eric added, a little bitterly.
Dead in the Family, p. 243

Eric has already eluded to the whole Freyda thing, but even Eric knows it’s got nothing to do with power or position. It’s got to do with Appius coming through and wrecking up the place, breaking Sookie and Eric up, and getting a belt from the fact that Eric loves him the most. It’s very difficult for Eric to get out from under the influence Appius has had on him. So that’s how I see the whole Freyda thing being worked out.

So that’s the background machinations behind everything. Now, of course, Appius is dead, and there are other influences on the whole thing. Now I’m going to go into what’s been sort of bothering me about this whole deal. Namely, how Felipe is going to get rid of Eric and be sure that he won’t lose the state.

I made it clear that Eric is a pretty essential power to the top of the state, and I couldn’t quite figure out what Felipe was going to do in his absence. For sure, if he forced Eric to go, then Eric would make a pain in the arse during the transition, whereas if he goes willingly he won’t try to burn it down and salt the earth. So none of my previous assertions are contradicted by this. But I was wondering how Felipe would be able to stave off Freyda. After all, she seems to be gearing up to take over other states:

“What sharks? Anyone we know?”
Eric looked away. “Two other monarchs in Zeus. The Queen of Oklahoma, for one.

Dead Reckoning, p. 187

So, she’s the shark, right? What would be served by giving your potential enemy one of your greatest Sheriffs? That sounds insane right? If Eric went along with Freyda, Felipe is effectively shoring up his enemies’ state for them, and making himself weak in favour of someone who wants to run him over. Felipe isn’t stupid, so there had to be something more to the whole thing. He wouldn’t just give away advantage just because he wears a cape. So it didn’t make any sense. Well, it did when I read this:

“He wants to protect you right by his side now that he knows what you
can do.  He wants the leverage having you would give him over me.”

Dead and Gone, p. 97

And this was when I facepalmed myself. Of course, Felipe is shown to believe in love. Unlike Freyda, he has his own consort who is dancing on the table, who’s queen of nothing, and certainly not his main warrior. He’s going to take Sookie, thanks to his whole protection dealio, and then he’s going to use her as leverage against Eric. It is in Eric’s best interests to keep Freyda out of Louisiana, or Sookie gets it.

Eric wouldn’t be more free if he chose Freyda anyway. Felipe would hold the Sword of Damocles over Sookie’s head for the rest of her life to keep Eric in line. Therefore, he has about fifty years to shore up the kingdom before Freyda attacks if he takes care of Sookie – or a couple of years if he doesn’t. This is the way Felipe hopes to protect himself, which really goes to show just how crafty he is. With Eric in Oklahoma, whispering in Freyda’s ear, then he’ll persuade her not to go into Felipe’s territories – not Nevada, not Louisiana, not Arkansas – to save Sookie’s life. Even if he leaves of his own accord, that doesn’t mean he’s stopped caring for Sookie.

Felipe seems to believe in love, because he has Horst, his aide, and Angie, his Consort with him. I’m sure she’s a fighter, but so are all vampires, and so is Felipe. She didn’t contribute anything really to the conversation in Eric’s house. And Sookie notes what her main job seems to be:

Another vampire with thick black hair was watching her with casual appreciation,
as if he’d seen her do the same thing many times but still enjoyed the sight.

Deadlocked, p. 65

So Felipe clearly has Angie around to take care of him, and entertain him, and be his wife. As Sookie notes, Angie seems to do this often and Felipe watches often, so I see that this is probably her primary function. She wasn’t there during the takeover, but for a casual visit, she’ll come along – which tells me that she’s not one of Felipe’s essential troops. It’s possible of course that she’s there to be the new Louisiana Sheriff, and is there in an innocuous position to infiltrate and get loyalty, but I don’t think so. I think CH chose the words for a reason.

Felipe having Sookie by his side in Vegas would be a powerful tool in keeping Freyda out of his territories. Of course, Freyda can always overrule Eric, but Eric isn’t quite that blunt. He’d scramble around and find a better case for invading say Texas, so that he can redirect Freyda away from anywhere that would threaten Sookie’s life. Eric’s clever enough to do that, and even if Freyda knows that that’s what he’s doing, she would probably be willing to stay her hand rather than pissing off her Second.

And I’m sure that Freyda knows that this is the reason Felipe wants this contract to go in her favour. She isn’t a fool – so she’d be able to figure out that Felipe gets leverage and the telepath. And that hurting Sookie would mean bad things:

“Because Eric would hate me if I harmed you.”
Deadlocked, p. 170

While Freyda doesn’t believe in love, or that Eric loves Sookie – she just thinks Eric thinks he does – she definitely believes in fondness. So she’d be wise to what is Felipe’s strategy – and why he’s going along with Appius’ contract. She’d know that Eric isn’t going to want to invade Felipe’s territory, but it’s surely a pay off. She’ll get Eric with Felipe’s co-operation, and therefore Felipe will be safe. That’s why Felipe is putting subtle pressure on Eric. He’s trying to shore up his kingdom from one of the sharks.

There’s every possibility that Eric won’t give in to pressure. The situation is changing from night to night – and Felipe may not need to give a valuable asset away. So too is Eric losing value, because he’s drawn the ire of the Fellowship. I don’t think he’s going with Freyda, otherwise this whole drama would have been over as soon as Appius arrived, for the fact that whoever  is the HEA needs time on the page to celebrate their romance. But in the meantime, this is what seems to be going on behind the scenes. Just because Felipe wears a cape and seems theatrical doesn’t mean that he’s stupid – as I’ve discussed before, this is clever camouflage to put other vampires and humans off guard. He might believe in love, but that doesn’t mean he’s not willing to use that against Eric to get him to comply.

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