A/N: SPOILERS FOR EVERYTHING (SHOW/BOOKS). If you haven’t read the final book or watched Season 6×10 and everything in between, DO NOT read this.
OTHER CAVEATS: If you ARE PLEASED AS PUNCH with the outcomes in the books and show, please, please skip this. I don’t want to offend anybody here. I’m writing from a place of love and just want our beloved characters to be given their due. I also believe CH and BB & Co. work really hard at their jobs and have the same right as myself and all of you beautiful lovers to write whatever they choose as they choose it. We wouldn’t be in the fandom if we didn’t appreciate and were inspired by their efforts. That said, my OC Lillian has a few things she wants to get off her chest and Eric and Godric are more than willing to hear her out. Per usual, this is NOT Bill-friendly.
The story is rated *MATURE* for a reason – loads of colorful language (my, my these characters have salty mouths!) and some light lemony talk. There are very minor references to slash and threesomes as well, so please for the love of everything holy don’t read it if that sort of thing offends you.
As an unrelated outtake of a separate AU story, this doesn’t rely in any critical way upon the details of the main story. It might be helpful to know that Eric is Godric’s only child and that vampires are not out of the coffin. Eric often refers to Lillian as “Lila” (pron. “Lee-la” as in Swedish for purple; a joke about how she loves the color) and Godric calls her “Lily.”
That being said, let me know what you think! ::Ducks::
“What thaaa FUUUUCK!?” Lillian clicked off the tv and sat, frozen, in cold shock. Pans clattered in the kitchen as Godric dropped his latest food experiment (banana leaves and squid, of all things!) and materialized suddenly in front of her with a whoosh of air.
“What is wrong?!”
Her mouth hung open and she gestured numbly at the screen with the remote.
“Lily, love? Talk to me!” Eric, come.
Out in the barn, Eric felt the telltale shiver of his maker’s call. “Sorry Øpir, pappa’s gotta go.” He’d just have to finish grooming the powerful stallion later. Giving the gentle giant a quick caress on the soft velvet of his muzzle, he tossed the curry comb back into the tack box and zipped up the terraced hill to the house.
“You rang, master?”
Godric was fretting over Lillian, who was still as a statue. She looked over at Eric slowly, pursed her lips into a furious grimace, then drew her arm back and threw the remote at his large – and rather expensive – flat screen tv.
Eric raised an eyebrow in an amused smirk. All that vampire blood in her system had exponentially increased her strength. The screen shattered into a hundred chaotic shards before the whole thing moaned and flopped off its bracket, dangling limply against the wall by a few cables.
“FUCK True Blood! And FUCK every writer who doesn’t do you justice!”
“Lover, what the hell is going on? You just gave my Samsung the true death.”
Godric visibly relaxed in relief, realizing she was only angry about a television program. The ancient Celt never quite could understand why humans were so entranced by those machines. The hum of their internal mechanics was extremely distracting and the grainy, pixilated image quality, even with the latest advancements in HD technology, bothered his sensitive vision. Perhaps it was just him, though. Eric was obsessed with it, particularly with the History Channel, which he gleefully insisted upon calling ‘Vampire Comedy Central.’
“What’s going on? Oh, I’ll tell you what is going on. Those fuckwits at HBO just dicked you over yet again and I have had it. I am done! I can’t take it anymore! You need to get your perfect butt in gear and glamour somebody to either fix that hot steaming pile of a show or kill it off once and for all.”
“Odin’s beard, Lillian, I don’t know why you even still follow that program. You know I only told Ms. Harris and Mr. Ball enough to get them started. It was just a game.”
“They burned you.”
“No, they burned you. As in set Eric fucking Northman, vampire sex god and regent of Northern Louisiana, on fire.”
“Hell if I know! As a cheap trick for ratings, I guess. I feel played.”
“Well how in helig jävla fan could tv-me – nevermind real me – ever let fire catch me off guard?” he asked in annoyance.
“Poor Alexander…” Godric shook his head. Perhaps he should make a few calls to ensure the actor had work lined up. He was so talented and really bore an uncanny resemblance to his progeny. They had even wondered privately if he was somehow a distant relation, but Eric was wholly against investigating further. Godric and Pam were his family, he insisted, not some human.
“They had your character reading and sunbathing nude on a Swedish mountaintop and Billith’s stupid magic fairy hybrid sunblock wore off and you caught on fire. Just like that. Jump cut and end scene.”
“Which mountain range? What was was tv-me reading?”
“Oh for god’s sake, Eric. They act like they are killing off your epic ass without a second thought and you ask which mountains!? Who cares! I am so angry right now!”
“Well dammit, can’t you go drain Buckner or something? You’re a kickass, show fangs first kind of man! Gah!”
“Why are you so upset, sweetheart? It’s just make believe. You know you’ve got us right here.” Godric stroked her hair as he spoke.
Where to even begin? She sucked in a deep breath. “Why? For one, they gave a minor supporting human character the longest funeral ever filmed in the freaking history of television while they kill off far more central characters without fanfare or pause. In fact, the only thing they actually do consistently is kill the main antagonists like it’s no big deal they were the sole forces motivating each season. They always seem to misjudge who we’ve become invested in! Second, they make Bill out to be some hero demi-god instead of the self-hating, rapacious, simpering weasel he know him for. Third, this is after you did all the dirty work while he puttered around like an indecisive old man. Fourth, you always do all the dirty work. You always take care of everyone when no one is looking and they always hold Bill up as some smoldering hero and not the moldering fart sack he is. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess. Last but not least, the writers show their appreciation to the only thing that makes their crappy show bearable by setting you on fire just to keep people watching!”
“Lover, they shaved some 700 years off my maker’s age, pretended that he was a branded, depressive, sexually-abused slave, and sent him into the sun. Eric Northman would never forsake his master. He’d never leave a man behind and he’d never run after some flossy fairy floozy who didn’t have the charm, wit, or balls to talk a man down from a ledge. I stopped bothering long ago.”
“You broke more than the tv, as I recall,” Godric said with a wistful smile.
“I almost burned down the studios,” Eric replied with a vicious grin.
“I can’t believe I had to silver you. Yet again. How many times is that now?”
“Nobody fucks with my maker.”
“Eric, you know it wasn’t me. Plus, Allan is a very nice boy.” He grinned, then added, “Very giving in bed, too.”
Lillian let out a sputtery, choking cough. “What!?” One more shock tonight and she might actually go into cardiac arrest. “You did not sleep with Allan Hyde.”
Godric shrugged with a sly look.
“Oh. My. God. Please tell me you have video.”
“Sorry, darling. Perfect vampire memory sort of makes it pointless. I can relive it any time I want.”
“I want details. Immediately. Wait….No. No, no, no! You’re trying to distract me! I am so not done bitching about the season finale.”
“But isn’t it such a very good distraction? Don’t you want me to tell you about his gorgeous, delicious bottom?” Godric slipped down on the couch beside her and whispered, his lips brushing the downy curve of her ear. “How we kissed and kissed and how I pleasured and delighted his body for hours? How beautiful he is and how it was practically like fucking myself?”
“How insanely mad Eric was when he found out he got left out?” the Viking added huffily.
Lillian blushed deeply. “Unff…Yes. Yes, I do want to hear all about it. I will also be needing his phone number. But right now I want to vent.” She poked him in the chest. “These idiot, asshole, cockbag…”
“Goodness Lillian. Language!”
“Motherfuckers…” Eric offered with glee.
“Exactly! Thank you!” Lillian sighed. “Look, I’m sorry. I love you both so much. I know you just gave them enough to run with and glamoured them to forget you, and that it was all just fun and games, but I cannot abide how many times and ways everyone with a copyright tries to screw you over. Between the books and the show, it’s like the Kama Sutra of screwing you over. I don’t care if it’s just a story. It’s supposed to be entertainment – there is nothing entertaining about building up a compellingly complex hero and then burning him literally and figuratively over and over. No one enjoys that. No one even understands the logic of that!” she leapt to her feet and started pacing around the living room.
“It’s like this: what if Jane Austen was sitting at her writing desk with the manuscript of Pride and Prejudice nearly completed, but suddenly got her petticoats in a twist. She tears up the last few chapters and decides, ‘Hey! I’m going to have Elizabeth turn into a raging whore who jumps on every man-meat pogo stick in town and have mad King George repo Pemberley estate. But wait! Then I’ll have dashing Mr. Darcy burst into flames all because he’s prideful and quietly noble and time and again saves even the most wretched of people from themselves. Cause that will make perfect sense and everyone will want to buy my books!'” she jumped and clapped in faux giddiness.
“Lily, not every story ends happily,” Godric pointed out. He’d understood perhaps a little too well why they killed off the character he’d inspired on the show. But he could never be so selfish as to hurt his beloved child in such a way. It was unthinkable. There were always reasons to keep living. Always. It had long been an unspoken rule that if they had to go down, they were darn well going down together. It could be no other way.
“It’s not even about a happy ending, Godric. I don’t even like gushy predictable happy endings! In fact, I deplore rom-coms. What I want is for these people to be fair and just to who the characters are! You can’t write an apple in somebody’s hand and then have it become an orange when you turn the page unless there’s a god damn reason – magical, rational, ironic, mystical, or otherwise. Any genre of storytelling requires that there be an internal logic and cohesiveness to the world being portrayed. Otherwise it just screws up the suspension of disbelief and makes the author sound either stupid, lazy, insane, or all of the above. This is what editors are for. Remember how Rice’s Chronicles got all crappy and crazy after Book 3 and descended into self-loathing flames towards the end because she doesn’t use an editor? She’s all ‘no one can touch my words, no one can fic my characters…'”
Eric went to speak but Lillian cut him off.
“I know, I know. You have beef with he who shall not be named. I’ll shut up about it.”
“I do not have ‘beef’ with L., as you say. I simply want to punch his face out and stake the whiney bastard until he is once and truly dead.”
“Why? Because he gave you the idea to blab a few bits of your story to an author? Or is it because he’s the only creature on the planet with a bigger ego than you? Wait! Because he’s blonder than you? Or is it his retrograde fashion sense? Not GQ enough?”
“No!” His jaw tensed and he clenched his fists.
“Then just tell me why?” They’d had this argument too many times. Lillian pestered him incessantly about it because behind his evasiveness there inevitably lay something truly important.
He sighed in resignation. “If I tell you, will you drop it once and for all?”
“Yes, I will. Please, at long last! Enlighten me.”
“Because he treats his children poorly, above all his second-born,” Eric admitted quietly. “He is famous and revered yet he is an abusive maker who sets a terrible example among our kind.”
“It is true, Lily. Eric and I have had our fair share of differences and disagreements, but I have never once treated him as though he were merely a plaything I made to while away my eternal nights. I’ve never betrayed him for kicks or tried to take his happiness from him just for my own pleasure. That kind of cruelty is simply unforgivable. Louis is a sad, pathetic vampire because he has selfish, pathetic maker.”
“Okay, that’s fair. More than fair. I guess you can forget about introducing me to him then. But seriously, guys. The show?” She slumped back down on the couch and rested her head on Godric’s shoulder.
Eric waved at her to continue, knowing there was no stopping the verbal onslaught once she’d gotten fired up.
“There are entire teams of writers to vet, fact check, and develop coherent storylines and so on. Absurdism is one thing. Lord knows the books and show are that. I’ve swallowed my own bile and self-respect so many times just to get through the alternately plodding and manic inconsistency of the series, but this is just schizophrenic idiocy. It’s like the writers actually want me to hate their work. Like they sat around and were like ‘Hey, we know what will really piss them off!’ The audience shouldn’t even be thinking about the writing and production while they’re watching! If they are, something is seriously wrong!”
“I think the lady doth protesteth too much. Perhaps is it just because it is my good name we’re talking about?” Eric waggled his eyebrows.
“Or Alexander’s,” Godric teased.
“Oh, get over yourself!” she laughed. “Of course it is about you. Yes, it’s about Alex, too. But it’s more than that. It’s also about every person that takes time to watch the show.”
“What do you mean, lover?”
“It’s just the last straw. They use sex and unpredictable hijinks to sell what is otherwise unwatchable garbage. There are occasionally glimmers of what made it interesting to watch in the first place – and those almost usually come from some interaction with a certain Viking. The show is called True Blood for crying out loud! It is fundamentally, at its bloody core, about vampires and what would happen if they really existed.
Remember when Alcide mattered? When he was working for Eric. When’s the only time Sam was relevant? When he was shutting the hell up and standing behind the bar, scowlin’ at vampires. Or when he was begging for help. From who, you ask? That’s right. A vampire. When did anyone ever think a fairy was interesting? When a vampire was biting one. What I cannot comprehend is how the fine folks at HBO are apparently the only people to not realize this. No one gives a hoot about the werewolves, the fairies, the shifters, the smoke monsters, the ghosties, fucking zompires… No one has any motivation to give a flying fuck about any of them unless – and this is big unless here – they are somehow involved with the principle theme driving the show and its main characters – Sookie, Eric, and Bill. No offense, Godric. The writers screwed you, too.
“No offense taken, pumpkin.”
“The guest characters and the dumb, overdrawn sideplots are exactly that – a dumb waste of limited screen time because they don’t really matter in the end. They don’t matter because they just ram into dead-ends or are abandoned by the writers themselves!”
“Come now, Lily. They are interesting characters too.”
“Okay, I went too far there. Of course, they can be. I love the other characters too. They also deserve to be written in interesting ways and make their existence purposeful and they’ve been served a poor hand as well.”
“Didn’t you tell me the new man in charge is trying to go back to the shows roots?” Godric pressed.
“Sure. But their ‘roots’ demand that there’s a big, badass Viking smack dab in the middle. They’re clearly not going back to roots when they ship off the star to burn up and probably get randomly saved by some equally dumb luck and pepper the finale with yet another smattering of new, unexplained relationships and all manner of weird creatures.”
“You really shouldn’t be so upset about it,” Eric said dismissively. Lillian wished she had even an ounce of his calm, unaffected composure.
“How about we all get naked and make a sexy vampire-human sandwich?” he suggested.
Lillian hung her head in her hands. “Honey, they treated Alex and the viewers like whores. They pimped him out like a whore to us, expecting us to gobble up their BS and thank them for treating us like simple-minded, sex-crazed sluts. ‘Stay tuned…for Skarspeen! Pay no mind to the fact that we have no fucking clue what is going on in our show. And we write the shit! Ha ha!'”
Eric chuckled. “Skarspeen! You know that sounds so wrong in Swedish. It is wrong, too, I’m assuming.” [skars = cut].
Godric rubbed calming circles on Lillian’s back. “Maybe the show creators do realize that the series has nearly run its course and that’s the only way sell it.”
“No, it’s desperate and unfair to the viewers. I feel like I’ve been in denial for six years and then suddenly came to. This entire time they’ve peddled the show as though it has nothing more to offer than booby shots and dirt humpin’ and merkin jerkin’. They never realized we were watching for other reasons; never appreciated the difference between the provocative and straight-up trashy!”
“Oh come on, it’s always been pretty trashy, lover. American humans adore that sort of thing, yes?”
“There is a difference between guilty-pleasure-trashy and straight up trash-trashy. You know? Vonnegut said that literature should never disappear up its own ass. The same could be said for tv. They are in love with their shock value and mistake it for the real value of the series. Their fans have always stuck with it for these little golden nuggets of potential and their writers have never seen them through. Not once. They stumble onto them, dangle them in front of us and act like they know what they mean, then they keep on walking, usually leaving a wreckage of dead bodies whose storylines never play out. Just like Charlaine stumbled onto you and couldn’t understand the precious thing she did when she put ink to paper. It’s tragic to not understand the very thing you’ve created. Now both she and Buckner are running around complaining. ‘Waaanh, woe is me, I don’t understand why everybody is so angry! Why are people making death threats?! We’ve given you what you want!’ Look, buttheads, if you have to run around trying to feverishly explain what you meant and why you said the things you did, then you clearly didn’t say them effectively or convincingly in the first place. I can’t tell if that’s more sad or flat out annoying given they’re in the business of saying things for money.”
Eric crouched in front of her and took her hands in his. He’d sit, but his jeans were covered in fine black horse hairs and barn muck and he had a very white couch. Godric hated that he bought white furniture. Sadistic, is how he termed it.
Eric looked at her with a serious expression. “How was it?”
“You said he was nude, Lillian. So how was it?”
She smirked. “It was a very lovely penis on a very lovely body.”
“Better than mine?”
“Eric! Have you heard nothing I’ve said? You’re acting all peendazzled just like the writers want us to be!”
“Was it,” he said, pronouncing each word with purposeful force, “befitting of the Viking prince that he is portraying?”
“It was fucking fabulous, okay? I’m sure some people might not appreciate a flaccid dick filmed at an awkward angle on a cold green screen set and then lit on CGI fire, but my point is that we already knew his body is pretty much absolute perfection and in reality it no doubt would light a fire under anyone so lucky to get near it. And he knows we know it. Every body with eyes and vision knows it. I’ll never be within miles of him and I’m getting warm just thinking about it. What irks the shit out of me is that they act like that’s the sole reason why people like the character or the actor or the show.”
Lillian was starting to get blue in the face, but she just needed to get it off her chest.
“What Buckhole succeeded in doing in some 50-odd minutes is alienating his adoring, faithful audience. When he said all the ladies should watch because of the nudity, he treated us just like he treats the women on his show and suddenly we realized it. Sookie is increasingly portrayed as a fickle, sex-starved ho-bag who forgives all the wrong men for all the wrong, unforgivable reasons then stabs them, in every sense, in the back. Jessica? She was put into a rape situation and then promptly goes and propositions the guy for sex. That is heinous and unacceptable. Rape is not funny. Ever. It is not a shocking plot twist to entertain us and it is despicable how frequently it is used as such. Of course, then there are the consequences of Jessica’s turn of events: ditching a well-meaning bumblehead to be snapped up by another woman. And that chick? Violet, we learn, is no more than a cock tease who just wants to bully a man into a relationship, suck the life out of him, and be serviced, giving nothing in return. Cause that’s how ladies are, right? Wrong!”
What’s even sadder is that’s just scratching the surface. Tara? All over the place – unpredictable, violent, abused. I won’t even start on the deeply problematic depictions of race festering in the show or the flippantly cool dismissal and cartoonish portrayal of the very real problems plaguing the American South. That’s a whole other rant, boys. That leaves us with Nora. Nora who? Oh snap! The writers forgot to give the audience enough time to know why they should really care about her character before killing her, so let’s squeeze that in as we’re offing her. That plot line? Oh, well get this. She got uppity while she was sexing up the king, of all people, and had the audacity to want her – gasp – freedom. Well, that’s not cool. How dare her! A pox upon that lady! The only choices the writers allow her are death and undead death. And then have her squish dead again in Eric’s arms just to be sure the point was made. As if Eric wasn’t already devastated by the loss of his maker – the man who loved him so much that he gifted him a sister just to keep him happy. My all time favorite, though? I’m sorry, you’ll probably freak out too. ‘The possibility of a female deity?’ Now that would be one scary bitch. No. Backup. A woman as god? That’s as scary as three crazy bitches put together, who, for no discernible reason, do not have access to clothing despite said divinity. And just as a safety measure, let’s make sure a man steals all that divine goodness for himself and squanders it, helping no one and selling out his supposed true love in the process. Sells her right out to a man who wants to buy her, enslave her, fuck her, and drain her. Cause that’s what women are to the writers. That’s the story we’re being told about ourselves.”
“That’s bullshit,” the two vampires said in unison.
“You understand now? Look, I am categorically NOT saying they don’t do the same thing to their men. They do. That’s why I’m so upset. The whole thing just lacks respect – for their characters, for their actors, for us. They know Alex is game for whatever and he’s laughing all the way to the bank. He’s probably sitting there all pretty having a good chuckle at us stupid Americans for reacting so predictably. ‘Oooooh! A wiener! How very novel and risqué!’ Let’s run around screaming about the fact that every mammal on earth has genitals! Holy heaping crap!’ They simultaneously cheapened and exploited him when he’s an excellent actor. Remember that subtle pained little look he gave before he stood up to leave Godric on the roof? It destroyed me. It carried a thousand years of a thousand emotions. Then this latest performance with Nora’s death which not even the terrible, jarring editing and stupid wig and period set could distract me from? I wanted to heap Emmy statues at his feet. But I seriously doubt he’ll ever earn a single one for his hard work on the show because of all the burbling poo stew gushing around him. I only pray to the gods he’s got the good sense not to do the ’50 Shades of hey let’s make a sexual bully and deeply disturbed man seem attractive because he’s wealthy as sin and ultimately we all know women just want a rich man to love her, no matter how’ movies. I mean, I don’t know a single thing, ultimately, about who Alex is a person. But I’ve seen pics of him carrying far more intelligent books that that crap, and good god does it gives me hope.”
“It was a very good scene, out on that Dallas rooftop,” nodded the gorgeous Celt. “Of course, I personally prefer being undead and not breaking my child’s cold, unbeating heart.”
“Very true.” Lillian sunk into the couch. “You know, I like my entertainment to have at least a pretense of quality and not to resort to selling sex alone. You know why? Cause I can get porn for free online. Why pay HBO a dime? Another thing? I like to do my fangirl creepin’ on the down low, not have it waved around in my face on international freaking news telling me I’m gonna be all pa-dazzled and amazed. Am I gonna look? You know it. I’m human. But I’m gonna Google that shit on the sly like everyone with an ounce of self-respect. Just like I do with Bill.”
Eric shot to his feet. “You do not fangirl Bill.”
“Not Compton, you dork. Bill Skarsgård.”
“You are not to fangirl anyone but Godric and I.”
“No? I’m enjoying seeing where his career will go. And yes, it doesn’t hurt that he’s super cute and can also seriously rock a black tank top. He’s got his brother’s build, which in turn is almost as great as yours. Think of it as appreciating you even more, by proxy. “
“Lily, don’t antagonize him. You know he can be a stubborn jerk.”
“And I can be an even bigger one. You know who else is a fine drink of water? That supermodel on Vikings. I just want to be like, ‘Shh, don’t speak’…now lose the pants and show me your Calvins.”
Eric crossed his arms. “Oh, so now it’s okay for you to only watch him for his body?”
“Ha! Got ya! Sorry, it must be all the loathesome brainwashing pumped into my head speaking. I don’t watch anything solely based on somebody’s looks. You know that. I like my characters to have brains and do interesting things. I will, however, merely point out that it’s a tougher transition from modeling to acting, since by choice one commodifies one’s body and professionally sells it as a visual object. Alex, on the other hand, is selling a character. One that apparently only two people in the world – the folks with control of his copyright – love be hateful and unfaithful towards. Blerg. Anyways, you like the Vikings show too. Just admit it. It’s your favorite thing on Vampire Comedy Central.”
“It is factually preposterous. There are egregious, glaring errors.”
“You know you want to go run around and play on their set.”
His mouth twitched impishly. “Perhaps.”
Godric called him out. He knew his child better than he knew himself at times. “You already did, didn’t you?”
“I may have stopped by to…fix a few things. I did not ‘play.'”
“It’s okay to admit it. Travis Fimmel makes one fabulous viking.”
“För fan, Lila! Tillräckligt med dessa lögner! [Damn it, Lila! Enough of these lies!] There can only be one Viking sex god and that is me. I am the king of hotness. And I am eternal. All shall yield to me!” he roared.
Lillian howled in laughter. “More like King of Ego.”
“Obviously and with many justifiable reasons!” he snorted.
“My only consolation in this heinous treachery coming out of your mouth is that you won’t be fangirling anyone considering how you’ve smashed my tv.”
“Well then, let us thank the gods for the internet and its infinite possibilities.”
Eric smacked his forehead and Godric shook his head, laughing.
“Now, you mentioned something about making a hot stack of sexy man sandwich with me?”
“Yes. But only if you recant your blasphemy.”
“Fine. I repent! I, Lillian, willingly and freely retract any statements I may have made regarding anyone other than my beloved Eric and Godric. You are the only ones for me. I promise that I will only endeavor to honor you with my words and deeds.”
“Thank you. I accept your apology. I too regret how out of hand it’s all become.” He grinned with a sinfully handsome and equally evil smile, then whispered conspiratorially.
“But only because it’s bad for business. My business. You think I’d just pass along a great yarn for free? I am not so vain as to only want to see myself on a book cover. The hell with copyright, that’s for the little leagues. I am a practical man, as well as a significantly large owner of Time-Warner, Inc. and Pearson PLC, who as you might know, possess HBO and Penguin Group. Those beatches don’t own me, Lillian. I own them. You want the executive producer gone? I don’t have to drain him, lover, I just pick up the phone. You want to stop the press on the ‘Whatever the hell else happens cause none of it makes sense SVM book,’ as you call it? I click ‘send’ on an email and it’s as good as done. You see my sweet new ride out there and all this nice stuff? They bought it for me. Don’t worry, min älskare [my lover], I’ll straighten things out in due time. But enough of that now. Let’s go honor each other with some of those dirty, wonderfully wicked deeds you were promising us…”