I yank him back onto the sidewalk as a Mustang crests the hill and flies by. “Jesus, Butch, do you ever watch where you’re going?!”
“I do what suits me.”
He smirks and wags his hand like I’m supposed to follow him. Not after that near-death experience. I nod to the red light, and he shakes his head at my flagrant tight-assery.
Then a finger taps my shoulder and I jump. “Excuse me, young man,” says some old bitty. “These damn eyes just ain’t what they used to be.”
Before I can respond, Butcher whips around and offers his arm, which she accepts with a smile. The light turns green, and he graciously helps her cross the street – a perfect fucking Boy Scout – leaving me to trot along behind them both like a goddamn toddler.
When we get to the other side, she lets go and wanders off without even thanking him.
“I thought you ate lame old ladies,” I say.
“I do what suits me.”
“Blindly stepping into traffic, then helping rude grandmas cross the street suits you?”
I’ve been drawn to a particular piece of artwork from Hannibal’s kitchen. I’ve mentioned it in other fics, but for some reason, it came to mind while I was writing this. I added some info about it in a second drabble just below the first.
100 words for the drabble 100 words for the brief aside
It was off-handed and rolled so effortlessly from his tongue that it felt almost innocuous.
I’d just thanked him for my dinner and immediately lost my appetite. He treated my now rapt attention as though I found his stories of Shakespeare’s youth suddenly fascinating. Between bites, he laughed and spoke of the bard being caught poaching deer before fleeing some city in a panic. While his tales romanticized life in the seventeenth-century, my mind remained fixated on his reply from moments ago.
I was still breathless as he carried on, sharing his fondness for poetry among other very unexpected things.
A Brief Aside
In Hannibal’s kitchen, hangs a drawing by William Hulme. It is an illustration depicting a view of the great hall at Charlecote Park, a sixteenth-century mansion on the banks of the River Avon, Warwickshire.
It was owned by the Lucy family, and it has been said that Shakespeare did, in fact, poach deer and rabbits in the parks of the estate. When his crimes were discovered, he was brought before the magistrate, but he ran to escape his charges. I always found that story fitting, considering the poet slipped away, under cover of night, to avoid prison.
A Second (less succinct) Aside
Before I deleted this original posting on AO3, I received some comments asking what Butcher’s comment was. A few readers even guessed. I wanted to save one particular comment for posterity:
Is it horribly cliche that my immediate assumption was that he said “I love you”, or something to that effect? Seems like something Butch would be able to say carelessly, with a “Eh, it is what it is” attitude, while Hop would have no idea how to process it. Hop doesn’t seem to have that put-upon, biting narrative voice he gets when Butch is prodding him about murder or the fabric of the cosmos or anything like that, so I don’t think it could be one of those topics. Based on what I know from the text, Butch seems to be in his happy place – Hopper just sat down to eat the (probably human) dinner that Butch prepared for him, and now he’s listening to him prattle on about things that interest him. I mean honestly, what could be better lol? I have to think that Butch is feeling good, sharing a meal and laughing at his own stories, and yeah, of course he feels something for this guy, and saying something about it isn’t a big deal. Obviously he feels something for Hop, otherwise he would have killed the pain in the ass ages ago. It is what it is. Meanwhile, the cogs in Hop’s head have skidded to a halt because he doesn’t know how to process the idea that someone might express genuine positive feelings towards him without using them for what he assumes are manipulative ends. (Although he’ll probably suspect that anyway.)
“…sharing his fondness for poetry among other unexpected things.” Hop seems like he’s spent his time with Butch in a mostly responsive mode – he doesn’t feel things FOR Butch, he feels things ABOUT him. He doesn’t cultivate what happens between them, he responds to him and the things he does. He doesn’t think about how he feels towards him, he just reacts to the fact that he’s there. Of the two of them, Butch seems much more invested in their “relationship”, if you can call it that, so it would seem totally in-character for him to make a passing affectionate comment that would leave Hop like, “I thought this guy was just toying with me for his own amusement.” Sort of like Will.
Anyway, that’s my thesis on “the comment”. I’m likely way off base, but that’s my head canon and I’m sticking to it! …at least until when (if?) you tell us what it really was lol.
Thanks as always for posting!
My long winded reply, in case you wanted to know ...
Wow. O.O You like … you analyzed that to a goddamn T. “Is it horribly cliche that my immediate assumption was that he said ‘I love you’, or something to that effect?” — UM, NO!! NOT CLICHE. *nervous laughter* I was feeling a little mopey last night. When I’m mopey I get sentimental. It’s the closest to fluff I ever come. What of it?! Huh?! XD
“Seems like something Butch would be able to say carelessly, with a ‘Eh, it is what it is’ attitude, while Hop would have no idea how to process it.” — Butcher WOULD say something like that carelessly, because he owns his own feelings. He has no need to explain himself or hide his emotions (if he has any). He says what needs to be said and what suits him at any given time. He’s not that sentimental.
“Hop doesn’t seem to have that put-upon, biting narrative voice he gets when Butch is prodding him about murder or the fabric of the cosmos or anything like that, so I don’t think it could be one of those topics.” — Okay, can we stop for a second?
“Prodding him about murder or the fabric of the cosmos,” I died. I laughed out loud and then died. I don’t know why that hit me so hard, but the “fabric of the cosmos” comment is so very embarrassingly accurate when it comes to how I’ve been writing Hopper’s existential crises. XD
“Butch seems to be in his happy place – Hopper just sat down to eat the (probably human) dinner … now he’s listening to him prattle on about things that interest him. I mean honestly, what could be better lol? … of course he feels something for this guy, and saying something about it isn’t a big deal.” — I’m glad you felt Butcher’s happiness! Do you know how hard it was to try to convey someone being happy through the eyes of a panicking person in only 100 words? Ugh. So much editing. Butcher is getting everything he’s ever wanted! Dinner WITHOUT hiding its ingredients, companionship, conversation, and Hopper-san is cute and frisky to boot! What more could a wandering cannibal ask for?! And he’s talking Shakespeare! The romantic Bard of Avon! All they need is flickering candlelight and some violinist bowing out Chopin. Butcher’s on cloud fucking nine!
“Hop seems like he’s spent his time with Butch in a mostly responsive mode – he doesn’t feel things FOR Butch, he feels things ABOUT him.” — THIS is actually a running theme that I have weaved into Hopper’s character much like canon-Will. He has feelings about what Butcher does and the kind of person Butch is, and he reacts to those feelings, but he only gets an emotional response FOR Butch, when they are intimate enough that Hop can empathize with him – namely when Hopper’s defenses are down and he’s feeding off of Butcher’s vulnerability. Doesn’t happen often, because Hopper’s so tightly coiled, but Butcher’s been more than willing to share himself, even if his haste may seem a bit reckless. He’s confident that he knows Hop well enough to assume that the man will succumb eventually.
“Of the two of them, Butch seems much more invested in their ‘relationship’, if you can call it that, so it would seem totally in-character for him to make a passing affectionate comment that would leave Hop like, ‘I thought this guy was just toying with me for his own amusement.’ Sort of like Will.” — Butcher is in this “relationship” whole hog. *wink wink* Just like Hannibal (and unlike Hopper), he doesn’t make “mistakes”. He doesn’t make “poor choices”. He wants Hopper; he’s just patiently waiting for Hopper to want him back. “I gave you a rare goddamn gift, son, open it and fucking TAKE IT.” That’s not a quote, but it COULD be. And Will thought Hannibal was fucking with him all the way to the bitter end. *Hannibal dramatically shakes Will by the shoulders* “Do you see now, you idiot?! This is all I ever wanted for you!” (Or something like that. I don’t really remember.) Point is … Great analysis!! Perhaps I’ll write another drabble about what he exactly said … it’s not like, you know, earth-shattering. It’s just Butcher being Butcher, and Hopper being in denial and really self-conscious. So, same old story.
These characters are so rich and faceted… nothing about them is uninteresting. You could describe the tread pattern of Axe’s lost boot in 3-5 precise words and it would somehow be profound, meaningful, and completely in-character.
My vision is lost when thunder rolls over the sky and clouds burst with a flash.
I crouch into the brush, waiting for the downpour to stop, staring over the yard of the smoking rancher across the street. In the mud, my boot prints fill – a foot-shaped puddle with a spine flanked by islands of chevrons. Those chevrons point shamefully toward the house fire trapping Wild, but I have to wait.
I have to wait, hoping to watch his prints overlap mine.
I have to wait while that house burns, praying that he is stronger than me.