“Indeed,” Bill returned. “After that, Sophie-Anne decided to send me to Bon Temps. My mission had several goals. First, I was to establish contact with the whole Stackhouse family and see if their blood was as flavorful as Hadley’s. I was also to confirm that Sookie was a telepath, and—if so—I was to secure her into our service by any means necessary, though the queen wanted the girl to come more-less willingly.”
“Of course,” Russell observed.
Bill continued. “My main mission, however, was to trace the Stackhouse family line back to its fairy source and keep watch to see if I might find other Fae.”
“Ah, so the queen was greedy,” Russell mused. In truth, the king couldn’t blame her. He was old enough to remember when fairies were more commonly found in the human realm. He had even tasted a half-blood before. It was delicious—intoxicating.
He couldn’t wait to have more!
Bill took in a deep breath and looked at Russell with unease.
The king smiled benevolently. “You may tell me anything, young William. You will face no judgment here—just acceptance,” he added seductively.
His eyes hopeful, Bill nodded. “Okay.” He took another breath. “I tracked the Stackhouses for several days before I made contact with any of them.”
“And whom did you approach first?” Russell asked.
Bill’s voice took on a more formal, almost “professional” tone. Russell knew that he was now talking to Bill in “procurer mode.”
“Sookie’s brother was the easiest because he lives alone,” Bill informed.
“And is he like his sister?”
“No,” Bill responded. “Jason smells somewhat better than an average human. But, unlike Sookie, I could easily glamour him.”
“And did you taste him?”
Bill nodded. “Yes. But I found it was only slightly more interesting than regular human blood—not even as good as Hadley’s.” He contemplated for a moment. “There is a twinge of something ‘other’ in it, but the boy’s regular type is O-positive, and the normal qualities of his blood counterbalance the spice. Jason is also quite ‘simple’ in some ways—easily manipulated. He told me that his sister was special in some way, but he couldn’t really say what that was. It was as if he didn’t want to acknowledge it himself.” Bill shook his head a little. “Jason did indicate that Sookie sometimes knew of things that she shouldn’t, but that was the best I could get out of him. I glamoured him to forget our encounter and then left him alone.”
Russell sighed. “What a pity that he didn’t at least taste as good as Hadley.”
Bill nodded in agreement and then continued. “The next night, I watched Adele’s house—where Sookie also lived—until Sookie went to work. I then paid Adele a visit. She too was easy to glamour, and I quickly gained an invitation into the house. Adele’s blood was completely human. I concluded, therefore, that Adele’s husband’s side of the family was the likely source of the fairy blood. I questioned Adele and found out that her husband, Earl, disappeared without a trace nearly twenty years ago. I also learned that Jason and Sookie’s parents had both been killed in a car accident, which was caused by an anomalous flash flood. Hadley’s mother had died of cancer. Adele knew of no other relatives—not even distant cousins.”
“Was she able to confirm her granddaughter’s telepathy for you?” Russell asked.
“Yes. She told me that her granddaughter could hear others’ thoughts and had learned to build what Adele called ‘shields’ so that she could avoid doing so. I was able to discern that the family tried to pretend that Sookie did not have such a gift. And it seemed that the girl did whatever she could to keep from outwardly showing the signs of her ability. However, the townspeople had still intuited that there was a difference with Sookie; they even called her ‘crazy Sookie’ as a nickname. Especially as a child, Sookie had been ostracized by most people because she’d not yet gotten control of her gift. I also learned that Sookie had never been in a relationship with a man because touch amplified the effects of her telepathy.” Bill took another deep breath. “I also questioned Adele to find out if Sookie had a history of abuse similar to her cousin’s.”
“Did she?” Russell asked with interest.
“Yes. It was Adele’s brother who molested the two girls. After I had begun things with Sookie, she also confided in me and told me about her abuse.”
Russell nodded in acknowledgment. “I see how all of this information would have been quite useful in your pursuit of Miss Stackhouse. Tell me—did the grandmother have any additional information?”
Bill shook his head. “Not really anything pertinent to the potential fairy line. I had Adele show me family photos and whatnot, and I ‘borrowed’ and then copied anything that seemed potentially useful in order to add it to my files. I returned Adele’s original items the next night so that they wouldn’t be missed. I also asked Adele to tell me more about Sookie—her likes and dislikes. From that visit, I decided upon the best way to get into the girl’s good graces.”
“And what did you decide?”
“Well—I had two plans, and the one I ultimately chose was contingent upon whether or not Sookie could hear my thoughts. Thankfully, her telepathy does not work on vampires, so I set in motion my preferred plan.”
“Well—it was clear that Sookie had always tried to hide her ability and that she’d gone to great pains to develop her ‘shields.’ I figured that—if she couldn’t hear my thoughts—I would be immediately interesting to her. I also posited that my presence would be soothing to her. I hoped to force encounters that would compel her to tell me of her gift, and—after she had—I planned to show acceptance of it and offer aid with her shields.”
“I see. You wanted to give her the things she most craved—acceptance and aid in pretending to be ‘normal.’ Very generous—and clever,” Russell complimented.
“Thank you, your majesty,” Bill said with a little smile. “I knew that I could offer myself as a suitor if Sookie couldn’t hear my thoughts.”
“The only viable suitor,” Russell smiled.
Bill nodded. “Yes. That was my thinking. I decided that it would be best to observe Sookie around others before approaching her. And I needed to know if she could hear me or not, so I went to her place of employment.”
“She worked at the shifter’s bar?” Russell asked with clear disdain in his tone.
Bill nodded. “Yes. Sookie is quite loyal to Sam Merlotte and her few other friends. She did not know at the time that Merlotte was a shifter. Through observing from outside the bar, I was able to find out that “crazy Sookie” was a common topic of gossip among the townspeople. I studied Sookie’s face, and it became clear almost immediately that the thoughts of others hurt her a great deal. I could see her concentrating very hard to keep those thoughts out of her mind.”
“How did you come to be certain that she couldn’t hear you?” Russell queried.
“After I studied the way she reacted to the thoughts of others, I tried thinking a few things right at her. First, I did it from outside the bar—before she ever saw me. Then I entered the bar.” Bill looked a little uncomfortable. “She uses what she calls her ‘crazy Sookie smile’ to cover up her reactions; however, her face remained placid around me as I thought about . . . .” Bill stopped and looked away, as if ashamed.
“What did you think about?” Russell asked.
“Fucking her in the very booth I was in. Draining her and everyone else in the room,” the younger vampire responded quietly.
“Horrors that one of Sookie’s ilk wouldn’t have been able to ignore,” Russell commented.
Bill nodded. “After only a few moments, I became confident that Sookie was, indeed, ignorant of my thoughts. Because she didn’t know what the shifter was, I also hypothesized that his thoughts were not clear to her. That theory was something that she later confirmed.”
“So werewolf thoughts would likely be obscured from her as well,” Russell observed.
“That would be my guess, but I am not sure,” Bill responded. He took another deep breath. “I also tried to glamour her that first night. But even with my higher than normal level of skill, she resisted. It even seemed as if she could tell that I was trying to enter her mind, so I immediately backed off. Despite that, however, it was clear that she was intrigued by me. It was also obvious that I was the first vampire she’d ever met. And I quickly realized that I could use my status as ‘other’ to my benefit.”
“Ah,” Russell nodded. “She would see you as a kindred spirit because you were both different from the others in the town.”
“Exactly,” Bill said. “It was painfully obvious that she had little acceptance from others. Adele had been correct; she tried to both hide and stifle her gift rather than using it. And even when she decided to try to use her telepathy to help clear her brother of some murders he was suspected of committing, she did so with great hesitation—almost apology.”
Russell nodded. “I read about the human serial killer, Rene Lenier, in your file. He killed Adele Stackhouse—correct?”
Russell smiled at his young protégé after Bill had been silent for a few moments. “So far, William, I don’t see anything untoward about your actions, and things could be easily explained to Sookie. You were sent to do a job by your queen. Sookie need never know that you made contact with her family members before you met her. I admit that Hadley’s presence will complicate things, but I will make sure that you have had ample time alone with Sookie in order to explain how the queen first learned of her telepathy. You can emphasize that Hadley is the reason for the queen’s interest and that you were just following orders. Clearly, you fell in love with Sookie once you began interacting with her. Just tell her that you were trying to keep her from the queen through a variety of delays.”
Bill nodded. “I can see that working with what Hadley might tell Sookie, but the queen knows everything that I did in those first days with Sookie, and I don’t know how Sookie could forgive me for many of my actions.”
“Tell me what the queen knows,” Russell cajoled.
Bill sighed. “When I realized that my glamour didn’t work, I decided that seduction was the route I would have to take with Sookie—since Sophie-Anne didn’t want me to kidnap her outright,” Bill said as he shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Thus, I glamoured two humans into helping my plan along a bit. They happened into the bar the night that I met Sookie, and given their behavior and interest in me, I immediately guessed that they were users of V. I sat with them, and while Sookie was in the back of the bar, I glamoured them. They were actually planning on draining me and had some silver in their vehicle from draining a vampire in Monroe the week before. Quickly, I glamoured them so that they would ‘think’ about their plans in great detail.”
“Ah—so that Miss Stackhouse would hear them.”
“Yes,” Bill confessed. “She seemed to dislike them anyway, and when she brought refills to our table, she clearly heard something that troubled her. Immediately after she went to the back again, I left with the Rattrays.” Bill sighed deeply. “I glamoured them to use their silver to hold me down; however, I made sure that I could escape it if necessary. Then they were to take a couple vials of my blood. They had some blood left from the last vampire they drained, so the scene was set up to look as if they had taken a lot more blood from me than they actually did.”
Russell nodded and motioned for the younger vampire to continue.
“Not long after that, Sookie came outside looking for me. Just as I’d hoped she would, she came alone.”
“You were counting on the fact that she didn’t want to admit to the others how she knew you were in trouble,” Russell observed.
“Yes,” Bill said. “All of her closest friends and her brother were at Merlotte’s, and I took the opportunity to see if she would tell them what she’d heard with her telepathy and ask them for help. When she did not, that told me a lot about Sookie. She was clearly independent—to a fault. And she was also clearly reticent about using her gift and asking for help. Thus, even with those closest to her, she was withdrawn. I knew that I could use all of those things to my benefit. My plan, if Sookie came alone, was to let the Rattrays capture her and beat her up to the point that she would need my blood.”
“And you would break through your silver, save her life, and become her trusted hero in one fell swoop,” Russell observed.
Bill nodded, the shame clear in his eyes. “Yes. But things did not work that way with Sookie. She took a chain from her brother’s truck and used it as a weapon against the Rattrays. Somehow, she managed to get them to leave the scene, and she ‘rescued’ me.”
Russell laughed a little. “No wonder you found her worthy.”
“Yes,” Bill said somewhat cautiously. “I was very intrigued by her. However, she was a little wary of me at first, and she kept hold of some of the silver after she’d freed me. It was then that I realized that charming her would be more difficult than I had first thought, especially since I’d been unable to get my blood into her.” Bill sighed. “I offered her the vials of my blood that the Rattrays had taken, but she declined. She didn’t seem to know much about V, and she wasn’t interested in trying it or selling it—despite the money she could get for it. She left soon after, telling me that she had to return to work before she was missed.”
“Interesting,” Russell said. “She obviously had no intention of telling her friends of her heroic deed either.”
Bill shook his head. “No. Realizing that I needed a better-developed plan, I decided to go home and regroup that night. I took the blood and called the queen to report what had happened. She agreed with me that seduction was the best method of proceeding. When I told her of my plan to get my blood into Sookie, she gave me her approval. She also asked me to sell the V, rather than to destroy it.” Bill looked down ashamedly. “I am sorry to admit that I did just that. The queen needed the money for the state.”
“You were just obeying your monarch,” Russell soothed.
Bill looked up at Russell with gratefulness in his eyes. “I hated obeying some of her directives,” Bill admitted.
“Rest assured that the blood is fully sacred to me,” Russell assured.
Bill nodded and smiled a little before his face fell once more. “I tracked the Rattrays to their home and glamoured them into telling me who they planned to sell the V to. I then used them to arrange the transaction. While I was with them, I developed a second plan to get my blood into Sookie.”
Russell motioned for Bill to continue, anxious to hear about Act II of his little “love story” with the fairy.
Bill did not disappoint. “I returned to Merlotte’s the next night. Once more, I saw that Sookie was interested in me, and I determined that it was because she couldn’t hear my mind. She seemed excited by that notion—and soothed, just as I’d hoped she’d be. So I got her to sit down with me, and I took her hands. My thought was that if she concentrated on only my mind, she would no longer hear the thoughts of the others around her as fully. I assumed that this would help her to relax her gift in my presence, which would—in turn—cause her to relax around me in general. I knew that she would be more likely to trust me if I demonstrated that I could help her in this way.”
“And did it work?” Russell asked.
Bill nodded. “Even better than I’d hoped, and I could see her softening toward me. With little difficulty, I got her to agree to meet me alone outside of Merlotte’s after her shift ended.” Bill took a deep breath. “I glamoured the Rattrays so that they would be lying in wait for her. I also glamoured them to the point that they were not thinking about why they were there—or about much of anything else for that matter.”
“Clever,” Russell said. “You helped the telepath to shore up her shields with your presence. And then you made sure she would not hear strong thoughts coming from her attackers.”
“Yes,” Bill mumbled. He looked at Russell with a tortured expression. “Had I known Sookie better then—had I loved her then—I would have never allowed them to beat her as I did.”
“Of course not,” Russell said comfortingly, even as his hid his smile.
Bill went on, as if driven to finish his confession. “The Rattrays snuck up on her and began to beat her. I watched it happen, but waited. The shifter showed up, and the human male was about to shoot him, but Sookie reached up to stop him. When she did that, I heard a snap. I knew then that Sookie would be paralyzed if I did nothing, so I quickly killed the Rattrays and took Sookie deeper into the woods so that the Shifter could not interfere. At first she resisted, but I eventually got her to drink my blood.” He looked down guiltily. “I had not intended to take her blood too. The queen had been very clear that she didn’t want me to bond with Sookie. However, Sookie had an open wound on her head.”
Russell smiled. “You were just healing her,” he comforted. “Tell me—how did she taste?”
“Like ambrosia,” Bill croaked out. “It was then that I knew that someone such as Sophie-Anne would harm Sookie irreparably. And I became torn. However, I did not yet recognize that I loved Sookie, so when I got home, I again gave Sophie-Anne a full report.”
Russell patted the young vampire on the back in a comforting gesture. “I can see why you are worried now. If Sophie-Anne tells Sookie that you intended to have her beaten so that you could play the hero and get your blood into her from the day of your very first meeting—that you actually planned two such attacks—then your fairy would begin to doubt your love for her. And she might realize that her own love for you was helped along by your blood in her and the bond you started that night.”
“I did not tell her about the beginning of the bond—or even about all the effects of a tie,” Bill confessed.
“As well you should not have,” Russell reassured. “Humans—even ones who are part Fae—do not need to know all that we can do with the blood. What did you tell her?”
“I told her that I would be able to sense it if she were in danger and then track her. I also told her that having vampire blood would increase her libido for a time.”
“Clever,” Russell said. “She would have thought that her attraction to you was a product of her own increased desire. And she would have been comforted that you could play her hero again since you had done it so well with her attackers.”
“Yes,” Bill said quietly before telling the king all about the rest of his early relationship with Sookie.
As Russell listened, he appreciated Bill’s particular brand of self-delusion all the more. Indeed, Russell did think that Bill’s plan had been clever. Between their first blood exchange and the fact that Bill had cast himself into the role of the knight in shining armor, Sookie was caught in his trap and quickly fell in love. Of course, Bill used his blood and a few well-timed dreams to get her right where he wanted her. And soon—according to the Southern gent—he too was “in love.”
“Do not fear,” Russell said soothingly when Bill was finally done with his little fairy tale. The king rubbed comforting circles into Bill’s back. “Sophie-Anne will say nothing of this to Miss Stackhouse or to anyone else.”
“How can you be so sure?” Bill asked. “She would enjoy causing the destruction of Sookie and my relationship, especially since I had been delaying our return to New Orleans for weeks and weeks. After those first few reports, I also stopped letting the queen know about my progress with Sookie. I had even planned to take Sookie to Vermont—to marry her. I had hoped it would keep Sophie-Anne away from Sookie. And—if not—I figured that I could get her to leave the state with me if we were husband and wife.”
“Then congratulations truly are in order,” Russell said as he increased the pressure of his caresses. He enjoyed the scent of Bill’s arousal at his touch, as well as the guilt that came along with it.
“Congratulations?” Bill asked.
“Yes. As I said before, I do not see any reason why you and your Sookie cannot marry as you had intended. In fact, I would be honored to be in attendance. And—if you chose to complete a bond with her—I would also endorse that.”
“I have exchanged twice with her,” Bill admitted. “However, I wanted to tell her something of the bond before the third exchange.”
“Of course,” Russell said. “And—as I said—do not worry about Sophie-Anne. I will make it clear to her that you and Sookie are more valuable to me than she is. I will let her keep her miserable life and be the figurehead queen of Louisiana only as long as she does not annoy me too much. And if she tells Sookie of your indiscretion, then I will have her head. So,” Russell reiterated, “do not trouble yourself. Nothing that you have done need affect your plans with Miss Stackhouse. She will be told about Hadley being the one to speak about her gift. She will be told that the queen sent you to procure her, but she will also hear that you refused to hand her over to the queen because of your growing love for her. You will tell her that—by joining my service—you have found a way to protect her from Sophie-Anne forever. Perhaps, you two can even return to her beloved home in Bon Temps. I believe that I could do with having Sookie work for me only one or two weeks out of every eight, and I would provide her with a contract that would pay very well for her services and guarantee her protection. And she could travel to a clinic near her home once a week to have a pint of her blood drawn to stockpile for me. In fact, as long as others did not learn of her ability and come for her,” Russell added, even as he hid his sly smirk, “you two could stay almost fulltime in your hometown. After all, you could employ your procurement skills anywhere!”
“Really?” Bill asked, obviously enamored by the picture that Russell was painting of his and Sookie’s life together.
“Of course.” Russell winked. “After your wedding, Sookie will want to make you a wonderful home, and I am sure that I can find employment for you in Area 5; perhaps, in addition to procuring the occasional new donor for me, you would be interested in the investigator position. Or—if you think having more freedom with your schedule is better for your relationship with the future Mrs. Compton, I have a database project that you might work on.”
Bill bowed his head. “Your majesty, I am honored that you would think of me for such duties.”
Russell continued to caress Bill’s shoulder lightly, allowing the younger vampire’s reactions to dictate his own. It was not long before Bill’s arousal led Russell to move in to kiss the youngling.
“Your majesty!” Bill gasped after having allowed the elder vampire to kiss him for several seconds. “I wish to stay faithful to Sookie.”
Russell pulled back a little. “If you decide to do that, I will fully support your decision,” the king said with affection in his voice. “But consider—Miss Stackhouse is mostly human. And it would be best—for the both of you—if you had a safe outlet. A secret outlet.” The king smiled comfortingly. “You could have such an outlet in Talbot and myself. Female donors could even be added to the mix if you preferred. Your relationship with Sookie would not be compromised. In fact, you could take out your more aggressive tendencies on others—thus leaving only your tender side for your wife. Surely—in your human time—men did such things.”
Bill nodded. “Yes. My father kept several mistresses over the years.”
Russell nodded. “And you?”
“War can be lonely,” Bill said with shame in his eyes. “However, I never bedded another woman—other than my dearest Caroline—until Lorena, but. . . .” His voice trailed off.
“War can be lonely, William,” Russell said in a soothing tone. “And some men seek out the fraternity of other men.”
“I always enjoyed women,” Bill said, somewhat defensively.
“I know. I’m sure you prefer them. Am I correct?” Russell asked.
Bill nodded, though there was some uncertainty in his eyes. Russell didn’t bother to point that out.
“But if you enjoy men too—on occasion—there is nothing wrong with that either. Especially for a vampire, it is necessary to experiment.”
“Sookie will be enough for me,” Bill insisted.
“I am certain that she will be, and she is part Fae, so she will be stronger than a normal human. Still,” Russell said almost paternally, “I care for you both and would not want you to unintentionally harm her. It is something that you must consider, young William. With a human, one must,” Russell paused, “hold back.”
“Yes,” Bill conceded after a few moments.
Russell moved away from Bill a little more. “As I said, consider your options carefully. Talbot and I would love your company, William. But if you would prefer to be with only Sookie, that is fine as well. Just know that my consort and I are discreet and would never expect to overshadow or replace the affection you hold for your true love.”
Bill looked at Russell almost shyly. “Thank you, your majesty. You have given me much to consider.”
“I will give you just one more thing to think about then—if I may,” Russell said.
Bill nodded his consent.
“Analyze the encounters you’ve already had with you fiancé. And be honest with yourself. If any of those experiences got a little rougher than you’d intended, then it would be safer for both you and your bride if you had an outlet of some kind—even if you chose something other than Talbot and myself for that outlet.”
Bill’s face immediately took on signs of guilt.
Russell concealed his smile. He would bet his un-dead life that Bill had, indeed, gotten too rough with Sookie on occasion—even before the incident of almost draining and raping her in the van.
The king allowed for silence to fall between Bill and himself as Dane sped them toward Fangtasia. Russell could tell that Bill’s thoughts were awhirl. Still, the ancient vampire reckoned that Bill would be in his bed before night’s end, but he wanted to allow the youngling the choice—or at least the illusion of choice.
Meanwhile, he would give his young charge some time to contemplate his choices as well as to concentrate upon his task of infiltrating Sookie’s night dreams and composing woven dreams for the days. As for himself, Russell spent the rest of the ride planning out how he would deal with the vampires of Area 5. It was just past 2:00 a.m., the time he’d told the vampires in Northman’s old area to be at Fangtasia.
But he was the goddamned king!
So they could wait to be tortured!
Okay—I have to say sorry to Bill lovers, but looking back to the introduction of Bill’s character in the show, I couldn’t imagine that he wasn’t doing almost precisely what I’ve described here. I will say that the more I wrote this story, the more I disliked Bill.
As always, I gotta thank Sephrenia for the banners. The chapter banner above is one of my faves!