materia medica [concept]

An 1850s Medical University AU concept …

… in which Hannibal Lecter is a medical illustrator whose drawings feature the uncanny likenesses of high society figures who have gone missing in and around Baltimore. 

Rated: G

Dr. Will Graham, a mortician and adjunct professor of materia medica at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is the only person suspecting of Mr. Lecter’s possible nefarious deeds. He approaches Mr. Lecter who appears cordial and welcoming, and Lecter begins inviting Dr. Graham to dinner. They enjoy sumptuous feasts and long-winded discussions about Mr. Lecter’s personal philosophies and Dr. Graham’s emotional well-being which the dear professor finds nothing short of embarrassing. A budding friendship quickly forms though not without some protesting from Dr. Graham who finds himself accepting invitations just to poke around Mr. Lecter’s drawing room.

Meanwhile, more bodies are showing up at the morgue – strange bodies, stitched bodies, bodies missing pieces – and Dr. Graham is now plagued by images of these mutilated corpses. His teaching is being disrupted by memories and visions of these heinous crimes, and when new illustrations mirroring his nightmares suddenly cross his desk, he takes the drawings and his concerns to the Chief of Police, Jack Crawford. The Chief, however, refuses to listen to the professor’s overly emotional diatribe about prophetic dreams and murdering illustrators, dismissing his concerns as those of a madman.

Feeling backed into a corner, Dr. Graham enlists the help of seedy Irish gang leader, Matthew Brown, to help him follow and expose Mr. Lecter’s crimes.

It’s only a matter of time before Mr. Lecter discovers the Irishman lurking in the shadows, and his retaliation and subsequent gift to his dear friend Dr. Graham is far beyond the professor’s wildest nightmares.

mariage d’enfer [fic]

A “Will the wedding planner” AU concept with a vignette …

Mischa is getting married to a wonderful woman she met while studying abroad in the States. Hannibal is the totally “laid back” (but actually ultra-critical) older brother who plans to walk his beloved sister down the aisle in lavish luxury.

Mischa’s dear fiancée recommends a keen-eyed but somewhat anal-retentive American wedding planner who she’d met at her psychology mentor’s small but personal wedding.

The bride-to-be is a tad hesitant to hire such a fickle and pricy planner, but her brother insisted that no expense be spared. Since their parents’ death, Hannibal and Misha were all that remained of the Lecters, so this wedding was to be the social event of the century.

When Hannibal finally meets the snippy wedding planner, he was both captivated and appalled by the man’s overly dramatic, contemptuous, and somewhat rude demeanor. The planner almost refused to do the Lecter wedding due to its size, but he was somehow convinced by Hannibal’s fawning trust in his abilities. 

However, Hannibal soon takes it upon himself to spend every waking moment making more and more outrageous demands that are clearly impossible to fulfill. He enjoys watching the inner workings of the strange man’s mind as he attempts to recreate all of Hannibal’s desires. But the planner refuses to let his client-from-hell get the best of him, much to Hannibal’s dismay and delight.

Rated: G

Will had never minded weddings. They were, of course, beautiful and often considered the experience of a lifetime. They were a rite of passage for some, to others a joyous celebration of love and life.

They were a fascinating exploration of culture and human desire, and for some reason, Will had always been drawn to the festivities of two people – once wandering the earth alone – finally meeting and agreeing to share the rest of their lives in each other’s loving embrace.

It was a fanciful thought: living a long life beside your one true love. In reality, Will knew most couplings dissolved within the first five years, but the joy and excitement on that first day together were still thrilling, and he seemed to have a knack for making dreams come true.

He’d watched his classmates, colleagues, and former friends grow and marry – the brides as mannequins for symbolic dowries, and the grooms dressed as the pinnacle of class after a tawdry night with strippers and cocktail shrimp. He’d been to weddings where the musicians, the three-piece waiters, and five-course meals cleverly hid the debt the new couple was about to face. He’d watched the bride and groom be dwarfed by the enormity and grandeur of the decorations. In short, he’d been to too many weddings where the wedding developed a garish life of its own, slowly devouring the love hidden at the heart of it.

Guests were caught in the whirlwind of loud music, uncomfortable clothes, or awkward drunken flirting that lead to brawls or sex in a closet or overpriced hotel room. Those weddings lacked what Will deemed the most important aspect of celebrating love and companionship: warm and heart-fluttering intimacy.

Those small, intimate gatherings were the weddings Will planned – personal affairs focused on the spirit and devotion of the couple and nothing else.

It was eight o’clock at night, and Will donned his glasses, shuffling through the newest and hopefully final list of the bride’s brother’s demands. The wedding was in three days and these additions were nothing short of insane. 

The sanguine should be drained from a young cow, he read to himself. How sacrificial.

“Jesus wept, Bev, he wants actual blood in the cake now. Did you read this?! Drained from a young cow, he says. The chocolate’s supposed to be whipped with the blood–” He stopped, suppressing a gag. “He’s a goddamn monster! I have to talk to Mischa about this.”

“Don’t bother her,” said Beverly, topping up Will’s wine. “I’m sure we can handle it. Maybe it’s a Lithuanian tradition? Try to stay open-minded, Will. Remember the Bloom-Verger wedding? If I recall, it was pretty ornate, too.”

“It was over the top, but there was no blood involved. I can handle an obscene amount of flowers and however many white-chocolate Sapphos a couple of brides want, but blood inside the cake? Come on.”

Beverly laughed under her breath. “Did you have a chance to cash his last check?”

“You’re damn right I did; I’m not gonna casually carry around half a million dollars; I’m going to need that money to pay for all my Xanax.” 

He continued to read, completely appalled. “I said the guest list should be no more than fifty. Now I have to find a hundred and fifty ortolans for some toast he’s doing. They’re illegal to trap and buy; did you know that? And it’s not like he’s releasing the ortolans, that would make too much senseThere’s a recipe attached to this!” He flicked the hand-written recipe card toward his poor assistant. 

“Oh, wait, he is releasing birds,” he continued, “doves right after they say their vows … so cliche. So while the chef is drowning endangered songbirds in alcohol, we’ll be releasing a hundred filthy doves. Why not split the difference and just flambé a couple flamingos for dessert! His gothic, tortured soul schtick is going to completely ruin this entire event!” 

His scorn fell upon another request, and he gripped his mouth in horror. No … this was supposed to be an event celebrating the joy of finding love, the excitement of beginning a new chapter of life, and the peace of knowing you were no longer alone …

The color drained from his face. “He wants falcons, Beverly. Oh my God, the doves are being released to feed the falcons!” He ripped off his glasses and cradled his eyes. ”This is a bird-shit covered nightmare, not a fairytale. Who releases raptors at a wedding?!”

She shrugged and stifled her impending laugh. “Another family tradition?” 

“Maybe if your family is a horde of hungry, nomadic Mongolians!”

Beverly grimaced and minced over to his desk, picking up the list. “Well what about this; this seems normal: he wants ice swans. We can do that.”

Will shook his head, still groaning in despair. “Keep reading. There’s a picture at the bottom.”

“Oh God, Will.” She covered her mouth. “Why would he ask for this!? At his own sister’s lesbian wedding?! Who’s Leda?!”

“I’ve stopped asking questions …,” he said, still rubbing his eyes. It was all madness. “I can’t tell if he loves birds or vehemently hates them. I’m a wedding planner, not an ornithologist. I need you to find me an ice sculptor as soon as possible. Preferably one who has absolutely no moral values whatsoever. I cannot let that ass win.” 

There were monster weddings that created the dreaded bridezillas, but those simply ended in tears over a smashed cake. There were the lavish affairs that no one really wanted to attend, but those events were simply long, arduous ordeals everyone suffered through out of pure obligation. Then there was whatever this macabre nightmare was with its blood-soaked cake and inexplicable gore. The bride’s only request was for ripe figs to be used throughout the ceremony – something to do with a vacation the couple took to Spain. That was it. The rest of these unspeakable requests were from the insufferable older brother alone. 

“Well, at least he seems to have all the food covered,” she said. “That was nice and, I guess, helpful–”

“Helpful? You mean his secret night-time cooking sessions with my chefs who he gag-ordered for some bizarre reason? And what about his refusal to let me taste anything before the wedding? I can’t pair wines, I have no idea what the food will look like, and there will be at least thirty-five very angry guests who, in three days, will be sat down and told the vegetarian meals I promised them are not on the menu anymore because the bride’s brother has an ‘ethical issue with vegetarians.’”

Suddenly Clair de Lune trilled from the front pocket of Will’s slacks. He fumbled his phone, silencing the alarm, and gruffly donned his suit jacket. 

“I have to go,” he said, snapping back the remnants of his wine. “His royal highness is taking me hunting for something – at night, with dogs. Probably mushroom or something equally dubious. He’s testing me, Beverly. He thinks I’m going to crack because of all these last minutes changes.”

“Just refuse to go; you’re busy. Tell him you have to catch a bunch of ortolans for a really pompous client.”

“I can’t refuse his requests for about a half a million reasons,” he said, tapping his wallet. “I’m obligated to pretend to find his little trips and anecdotes entrancing. I know he’s going to corner me again, but for the love of God, I can’t talk about Italian poetry anymore. I just can’t. He thinks because I do this for a living that I actually care about romance and high-class society. He is mistaken. I’d rather be fishing than discussing the aroma and bouquet of a random port from 1965.”

“Maybe he’s just trying to be friendly. He’s probably sad. His baby sister is flying the coop, and it seems like he was more of a father figure to her.”

Will stared into space for a minute. “You think that’s his metaphor for the wedding? Flying the coop? He’s more than a little preoccupied with birds.”

“Maybe …” A memory flashed across her eyes. “I saw one of his little appetizers earlier. I swear to God it’s a Fig Newton with a chicken foot stuck in the top.”

Jesus Christ. “If that is the metaphor he’s focused on, why’s he killing so many birds?”

“Anger issues?”

“I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m going to go fill all the birdbaths with Champagne and then drown myself in one. Gotta stay one step ahead of him … gotta make this the hap- hap- happiest day ever!”

Beverly wrapped her arm around him, patting his pitiful back. “Poor Will. Always the bride’s maid, never the bride.”

“Shut up.”

When Will began his planning business, it was supposed to be a creative outlet for his overworked mind. He had a strange talent for understanding what brides meant when they described colors as tastes or what emotion a groom had felt after he recalled a memory from his childhood. Whatever his innate talent was it helped him create the exact environment his clients desired, and he was celebrated for it. It was a stressful but relatively benign way to peek into the happiness and intimacy he never expected to feel himself. 

He dropped his wine glass back to the table and shuffled past Beverly. Whatever this hunting trip with Hannibal was, he wanted no part of it, but he was currently without options. He ducked out of the Lecter’s guest cottage only briefly before remembering his final request for his assistant. 

“Last thing,” he said, leaning through the doorway, “That bitchy red-headed florist ran off somewhere and she’s not answering her phone. For the love of everything holy, Beverly, if you see her, tie her up. I need to light a fire under her ass about those non-existent centerpieces.” 

She nodded in reply, and he took a deep breath before heading down the sidewalk.

“Happy hunting!” he heard behind him.

He dismissed her well-wishing with a wave of his hand as he reached his car. He had a laundry list of either impossible or illegal substances to acquire in just seventy-two hours. Meanwhile, the brides were blissfully unaware of the sexually assaulting swans and the violent falconry planned for their blessed event. It was Will’s task to take almost a million dollars and spin this psychotic circus into a fairytale for three hundred people.

He wrenched open his door and plopped into his seat. There was a cliff on the way to Hannibal’s meeting spot if Will wanted to end it all right then. He could hang himself with the thirty-five yards of tulle in his trunk. Or maybe through some bizarre turn of events, he could meet a serial killer who might just agree to put an end to all of his suffering.

Whatever happened, in four days it would all be over. The guests would be going home with full bellies and hopefully fuller hearts, and the brides would be on their way to sun-soaked Madrid for their honeymoon. The wine would be gone, the estate cleared, and the falcons – dear God, he thought – the falcons would be flown back to their aviary, and Will would be alone once again.

Always the bride’s maid, never the bride, he thought. 

Such was life and love.

the fire of ill friends [fic]

Read the fic on AO3 only Rated: M

A Hannibal S3/Valhalla Rising crossover missing scene [fic notes only] …

I will begin by admitting that my obsession with the Poetic Edda was what prompted this story.

As I read the myth of Óðinn hanging for nine days in a wind-battered tree… I couldn’t help but picture Will in his place. From there, comparisons began to arise between Óðinn’s personality and Will’s neurotic behavior. I was seeing Norse symbols in every episode of Hannibal – most probably imagined – but they were exciting all the same.

I began reading the Prose Edda and saw Will in Tyr. I saw him in Thor. I saw him everywhere and then the more I thought about these stories and poems, I began to see Hannibal in Loki. I saw Abigail in Hel. The pieces seemed to fall into place. Óðinn and Loki being blood brothers, Óðinn and Loki fighting against and with each other …

Parts of Loki (his children) are cast away by Óðinn. Loki is punished by him, he is held accountable by him, and as much as the other Gods despise Loki’s antics, Óðinn is defensive of his brother. In the end, however, it is Loki and his brood that bring about Ragnarök and despite his best efforts, Óðinn cannot stop his fate.

These are very similar themes that run through NBC’s Hannibal – concepts of fate and destiny intertwined with ambiguous morality and lots and lots of death and destruction.

I should probably explain that One-eye is Óðinn. If you missed that in Valhalla Rising, I’ll point it out now. One of Óðinn’s many, many names is One-eye.

VR has so many themes, from depicting the fall of man because of religion, to self-sacrifice, to destiny and fate, etc … it’s a very ‘man vs nature’, ‘man vs man’, and ‘man vs self’ sort of smorgasbord. I’m not going to do a critical analysis of Valhalla Rising because everyone and their brother has done one.

You may already know that I love director Nicolas Winding Refn, so I’ll just say, despite Valhalla Rising’s flagrant violence, abuse, and overuse of almost trope-like “art film” qualities, I still love it. I think it’s a fun jaunt into the mythological world of old and “new” religions, and since I despise organized religion in general, I think it’s a film everyone should watch.

Valhalla Rising takes place around 1000 AD. Many of the Norse myths were recorded in 12-1300 AD to help give you a timeline. Around 1000 AD, the Crusades were just about to take over Europe replacing the old pagan gods with Christianity. This is, obviously, a major theme of Valhalla Rising since One-eye makes it to the Americas with a group of Crusaders looking for the Holy Land.

I originally had a bunch of info right here about the original Graham Clan and how WIll could be related or at least connected to The Boy (in VR), but I already posted about that, so I won’t bother repeating.

The only two people in the whole fic given formal names are Will and Óðinn. All other characters remain nameless and I use, something like eight fifteen of Óðinn’s names in my fic, plus all the chapter names are more of his names. Óðinn has over 200 names. I don’t even give Hannibal a name in this fic other than to call him The Ripper a couple times. Also, if you watched Valhalla Rising none of those characters have names either, except One-Eye.

Below are the notes that I wanted to attach to the end of each chapter but I didn’t. If you want to know more about the symbolism of my fic or if you are curious as to where all the crazy dreams come from, I have the myths listed and offer references to learn more. Check out Jackson Crawford’s YouTube channel to get a hot take on the Norse myths and language.

Individual Chapter Notes


The Wanderer

I have a very elaborate headcanon backstory for Will – growing up in Louisiana, speaking broken French, being a latchkey kid, suffering from a lot of emotional turmoil since his alcoholic father really doesn’t understand his empathic “condition”, etc. I even have a sad story for how he got his first pair of glasses but it’s not yet published. Any of this ringing any Hopper bells? All the bells should be ringing.

So in my headcanon, Will spends a lot of time at his neighbor’s house and I briefly mention her in this chapter. She just happens to be described as an older, motherly-type woman, a seamstress, and having raised two boys before Will. She’s a blatant Frigg reference, and it draws comparisons between Will and Frigg’s youngest son (with Óðinn), the golden-boy Baldr. Baldr’s death is monumental to all the Norse Gods. In fact, it’s so tragic that Óðinn sends someone to Hel to try to get him back. But that all comes up later.


Spearman

All that historical stuff about spearheads and limestone is based on the assumption that the Crusaders in Valhalla Rising landed somewhere around Quebec, possibly sailing down the St. Lawrence River or one of its tributaries. The red clay covered natives in that region of Canada around 1000 AD could have been the Wyandot people (aka the Huron). I’m basing this strictly on depictions of those tribesmen who used a lot of red clay to paint themselves and also very similar weaponry to what was portrayed in the film (similar types of bows and arrows and the club that fell One-eye at the end).

Also, Óðinn’s spear is named Gungnir. There is no reason to know that, I’m just sharing for fun.


One-eye

My headcanon Will speaks French because he grew up in Louisiana. “Va te faire foutre,” means something akin to “kiss my ass” or “fuck you” in French. I like to keep Will a little sassy.

Also, in Valhalla Rising, One-eye was supposed to stay with his captors (the ones who were setting up his fights) for five years. They renege on that contract when another tribesman takes possession of him in the beginning of the film and we all know what happens to him. Mads Mikkelson must really like to disembowel people … but those four years of constant fights are where One-eye gets all his fractures. I’m only explaining this because I know some of you haven’t seen the film. Shame on you.


Masked One

Apples come up later in my fic as well. I wanted to give significance to something my characters can consume. This is a Hannibal fic after all. Apples were special to the Norse gods. They provided them with something akin to eternal youth. Without them they wither and age.

By the way, all my references to Norse Mythology come from the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson (Anderson’s translation) and the Poetic Edda by Sturluson (Crawford’s translation). If you want to know more about the apples you can read about them briefly in the myth “Idun and Her Apples” in the Prose Edda.

I play a lot with dignity and names in this fiction as well as domination vs submission because of One-eye’s character in Valhalla Rising being very yielding to his “captors” and because of all of Will’s colleagues treating him with a strange sensitivity since his incarceration. These are just several of many themes running through this fic but I’m not going to bore you with them here.

Sleep Bringer

Óðinn’s ravens were named Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory). From the Prose Edda:

Two ravens sit on Óðinn’s shoulders, and bring to his ears all that they hear and see. Their names are Hugin and Munin. At dawn he sends them out to fly over the whole world, and they come back at breakfast time. Thus he gets information about many things, and hence he is called Rafnagud (raven-god). As is here said:

Hugin and Munin
Fly every day
Over the great earth.
I fear for Hugin
That he may not return,
Yet more am I anxious for Munin.

Ravens typically travel in pairs and we see two unceremoniously perched atop Cassie Boyle, the college student whose body was found mounted on antlers in a field outside of Hibbing, Minnesota. This is irrelevant, I’m just sharing some of my personal brain vomit about how I’m bringing the show into this mess of a fic.

About Will’s house, in an interview with Patti Podesa, Hannibal’s production designer, she says of Will’s home:

I found a farmhouse outside Toronto, untouched, habited by the original owners. This became our backstory for Will: he purchased the house and land and just moved in. He lives in the downstairs, so he can be aware of anyone showing up outside … Some of the furniture, paintings and books belong to the owners of the house (who are the most fabulous couple – he was a motocross champion in the ’60s, she paints) … Will lives there with his dogs, his motorboat parts and his fishing tackle. He does not have a computer and does not bring work home.

It has been my personal headcanon that a bunch of junk was left in the house by the old owners and Will basically just moves in and makes it his own. I love the idea of there being old crappy paintings in the attic that he dusts off and displays (you can see some of the amateur art above Will’s fireplace – a woodland scene with birch trees). This is what prompted my Encyclopedia bit. Not owning a computer allows Will the leisure of combing through his research slowly and intentionally – never wandering too far out of his comfort zone. Books require deliberation and methodical exploration, and this is how canon Will approaches his gathering of knowledge. He has always been a technophobe so books are far more comfortable for him.

Also, the chapter graphic is of an old map of Iceland. On it, we see caves, rivers, ocean, wolves, and sea monsters … lots of foreshadowing there …

God of Men

This secondary case that Will tags along on is never mentioned again, and is only significant symbolically. The decapitated body is a reference to Mímir, the wise. Óðinn often sought Mímir’s counsel (in fact it was Mímir’s well that Óðinn drops his eye into so that he may see his future – he sees his death at Ragnarök and then spends his life trying to avoid this fate). Mímir is beheaded during the Æsir-Vanir War and Óðinn keeps his head, which has been smeared with herbs and chanted over, in a box and refers to it for counsel. I used the herbs from Óðinn’s nine herb charm for reference even though the charm is for poisonings not, um, death by decapitation. The nine herbs charm was an Old English charm recorded in the 10th-century Lacnunga manuscript (an old book of medical recipes).

If you’re interested, the charm references the following nine herbs:

Mugwort (Mucgwyrt)
Cockspur grass (Attorlaðe)
Lamb’s cress (Stune)
Plantain (Wegbrade)
Mayweed (Mægðe)
Nettle (Stiðe)
Crab-apple (Wergulu)
Thyme (Fille)
Fennel (Finule)

You crush the herbs to dust and mix them with soap and apple juice. You sing a charm into the mouth of the wounded, both of their ears, and over the wound itself prior to the application of the salve. There is more to all of this, but that’s enough about it here.

As for the name thing, yes, I only refer to Will and Óðinn by their formal names. No one else is named. I hope I did a decent enough job of describing everyone well enough that you can tell who they are. The science husbands get blurred, but that’s inconsequential.

I have a pet peeve in the Hannibal fandom that I had to explore in this chapter. I hate it when people call Will, William. It’s a thing that I just can’t get over. He has only ever been referred to as William on very weird occasions, once in a Tattle article in the book Red Dragon, and I think in the movie version of Manhunter. For some reason, fanfic writers think Hannibal likes formality so much that he’d call him William despite it being incorrect. Let’s not forget Hannibal has used the terms “a-hoppin,” “mic-drop,” “cheesy,” and “atta girl.” And if you read the books, he makes fart jokes, for god’s sake. Fans sometimes make him speak in Shakespearian riddles which I think it why in Unhitched I make him blunt as all hell.

For myself, there is no way I can make Hannibal call Will by anything other than his actual name, and since Harris didn’t name him William, he’s sticking with Will. I do recognize the irony is that statement considering Hannibal intentionally calls him everything EXCEPT Will in my fic Unhitched, but it’s an AU. There are different rules for AUs. Anything goes.

Moving on … Grimnir is one of Óðinn’s many names. It’s the old Norse spelling which translates to “Masked One,” the title I use for chapter IV.

Seiðr is the “womanly” magic that Will mentions when he’s talking about Óðinn. It’s only womanly in that it was concerned with discerning and altering the course of destiny by re-weaving part of destiny’s web. Óðinn was all about that because he was very anti-dying-at-Ragnarök. But seiðr was seen as a woman’s magic (associated with sorceresses or witches) possibly because it had to do with “weaving” which was woman’s work or possibly I just made that up.

That aside, at the time (Viking Age, remember 8th to 11th century) this type of profession would have been highly dishonorable for a man to partake in. No “self-respecting” “man” would adopt a female’s social or sexual role (why did I say sexual – because everyone seems to peg Will as a bottom boy, and I’ve never been able to get on board with that). And yet, Óðinn is associated with the masculine/feminine energies. A duality, so to speak.

Of course, now that I think of it, didn’t one of the Crusaders fuck another dude at the end of Valhalla Rising? The answer to that is a resounding yes. One of them did. They were in that weird drug-induced haze. Refn really likes to sneak that stuff in there, doesn’t he? I’m still reeling over his “homosocial” kiss between Frank and Tonny in Pusher … because all my straight dude friends totally make out with each other in bars all the time. They use it as a way to “bond”  … just like how they “play knives,” pretending to playfully stab each other because THAT’S not sexually symbolic in any way. Just two bros hanging out at a bar, pretending to stab each other until they end up a pile of sweaty giggles on the floor. I don’t know why I launched into shit about Pusher … back to what I was saying about womanly magic …

Actually, that’s all I had to say. I personally see Will very much like Óðinn, bridging the gap between what is referred to as masculine and what is considered more feminine. Will’s my plaid wearing, scruffy-chinned, small engine repairman. But he’s also my slutty little tease who is very in touch with his emotions. So I like to portray him less effeminate – more classically masculine – but with a traditionally more womanly appreciation for compassion, family, and emotional sensitivity.

But to each his own and all that. If you love to read stories about Hannibal undressing a long-eyelashed Will before powdering the man’s creamy white ass, you go right ahead! I’m sure there are a million of them to choose from, so enjoy.

Powdering Will’s creamy white ass, tho … just picture that for a sec.


Lord of the Gallows

I may have gone overboard drawing comparisons between the mythology and the show. This dream of Will’s is basically my interpretation of Óðinn’s Quest for the Runes and The Song of Spells found in the Hávamál, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Poetic Edda (they are from the perspective of Óðinn).

I took some liberties with the stags (also called harts or red deer), mainly because the stag is a critically important symbol in Hannibal but hardly touched on in Norse myth. The stag’s “formal” names are pulled from the Grímnismál in the Poetic Edda and are Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr, and Duraþrór, but how I use them in my story are not necessarily reflective of their significance to mythology. Dáinn and Dvalinn are more notably dwarfish names in Norse mythology (you may also recognize them from Tolkien’s lore) and mean Death and Sleep, respectively. These names are also mentioned elsewhere in the “Hávamál” but they are referencing the rune keepers of the elves and dwarves and not the stags which is confusing to say the least, but whatever.

For Duneyrr and Duraþrór, I used Finnur Magnússon’s early 1800s translation of the names (though I do not subscribe to his four-winds symbolism as I find it farfetched and stupid) and named them Thriving Slumber and Thunder in the Ear. Altogether, I see them as the four stages of human consciousness.

Dáinn is death, the largest stag who is purposeful and uncaring.

Dvalinn is sleep, dew and moss-covered from his time spent unmoving among the branches.

Duneyrr is transcendental meditation, who is the most unique of the four stags and offers Will introspection (he is also the only one of my stags to “speak”).

Duraþrór is consciousness or wakefulness and is both loud and cumbersome and the smallest of the stags as he represents the shortest amount of time our minds are in this stage.

I debated for a long time trying to decide on Will’s position as he hangs from Yggdrasil. Óðinn is not described as hanging by either neck or foot, but both depictions can be found in art from all over Europe (the most common being Óðinn hanging by foot like the “Hanged Man” card in the Tarot deck). As the translations seem to refer to Óðinn looking or peering down, we could say his body is hanging head up, but of course, “down” could be referring to the direction towards the Well of Urðr into which he peers, so his orientation is still a mystery. Whether Óðinn is hanging by foot or noose is irrelevant, however. I chose to crucify Will because, hey, he basically crucified Hannibal with the help of the orderly, Matthew Brown (S3E5). (I love how I used his full name and the episode number as though you don’t know this.)

As he hangs from the World Tree, Óðinn learns of the runes, nine songs, and eighteen spells, which I suppose correspond to eighteen runes, but I could find nothing attributing a specific spell to a specific rune (at least not in the correct order). As an aside, this is the origin story of the Old Norse Futhark. It was not a man-developed alphabet, it was given to Óðinn in a Divine vision.

What I ended up with in my story, after spending two days staring at about four different translation of each spell just to get an approximate idea as to what the hell was being discussed, was eighteen short, modern descriptive attributes of human qualities, skills, or traits. I felt as though Will would succinctly summarize the spells into easily digestible bits that reflected his own personality and abilities. Since he’s highly empathic, he has a certain insight into humanity and how men act, and I feel like Norse magic is very similar to human intuition and the fields of modern sociology and psychology.

Of course, don’t listen to me, I write gay fanfiction. I don’t know anything about this shit. Go look up Jackson Crawford. He’s informative and very suave.

As for the rest of the chapter, the story is just Óðinn’s … he hung for nine days from a wind-battered tree, etc, etc, you get the gist. Read the Hávamál. Actually read Jackson Crawford’s Cowboy Hávamál. It’s funny and charming (no pun intended) and you will get a straight-forward translation of Óðinn’s advice, and it reads like you’re sitting around a campfire shootin’ the shit with hobos.

I will say that the “mad horse” comment was just dumb luck. Yggdrasil is an ash tree and means “Óðinn’s horse” and when I saw the pneumonic device used by plant taxonomists, I had to use it. It was too perfect. This chapter is so packed with crap (there’s even a Dante’s Inferno reference ffs). I’m stopping here, because I’ve already said too much.


Father of the Slain

First off, the graphic is of the Icelandic flower Mayweed (see the nine herb spell from chapter VI). But it has another name: Baldursbra or Baldr’s Brow. I said Baldr would be significant later, and it is officially later.

So this chapter is all about the loss of a child. I bring in stuff about The Boy (from Valhalla Rising) to prompt Will’s self-reflection about what happened to Abigail. One-eye could be mourning the loss of The Boy, or he could be mourning the loss of Baldr. Baldr was his golden boy. He was loved by all (except Loki) and his tragic death (spurred by Loki) caused all the gods to weep (save Loki). But you can’t really blame Loki for what happened (yes you can). Óðinn banishes three of Loki’s children and there is a whole host of other problems between them, but I’ll focus on his three kiddos since the next three dreams are all about them.

Óðinn sends Loki’s half dead/half living daughter Hel to … well, Hel (also called Niflheim), where she becomes the goddess of the underworld. Loki’s wolf-son, Fenrir, is sent to an island in the lake Amsvartnir so he doesn’t eat the world, and Loki’s snake-son, Jörmungandr, is cast into the waters surrounding Midgard. Óðinn is paranoid as hell and he knows these three kids will be the death of him, quite literally. It’s a prophecy and it actually happens at Ragnarök.

Back to Baldr for a moment … Will’s talk about moving on and finding peace after withering from the death of a child … if you know Baldr’s story, that makes a bit more sense (Poetic Edda, “The Death of Balder”). So Baldr’s older brother Hoðr was tricked by Loki into killing Baldr with a sprig of mistletoe. Óðinn freaks out and sends someone to Hel to have Baldr released, long story short, due to Loki being a double-douche, Baldr is forced to stay in Hel but he returns each spring bringing his golden light with him. Think Hades and Persephone.

I really love the Baldr myth though. It’s tragic and poetic and I love that it brings about the fall of the entire realm. It paves the way for a brand new world, not unlike the death of Abigail sparking a turning point in the Hannibal world … though that is probably a stretch.

Anyway, you may be asking how I am relating all this Norse mythology to Refn’s One-eye. Well I kind of see One-eye as a regenerating being. His character might have a sense of finality in the film, but I remember reading once that Refn had intended to make a prequel that basically had One-eye traveling through time. It sounds ridiculous (because it is) but it got me wondering if One-eye didn’t live in cycles (at least in the Valhalla Rising universe). It made me create this entire AU in my head in which One-eye continually lives and dies, fights and falls, and sacrifices himself for the innocent. So I attach all the myths to him as though he has lived them for thousands of years and that the little window we peer into during Valhalla Rising is close to the very end of his existence as Christianity is forcing out the old gods.


Hel Binder

Obviously I made Abigail Hel. Hel is the two-sided (death/life) daughter of Loki and is described as literally having a dead and a living half. The symbolism abounds here with Abigail literally being both alive and dead in the show. First she’s alive, then her dad nearly kills her, then she survives, then Will “eats” her, then Hannibal “surprises” Will with her actually being alive, and then Hannibal kills her (again), and then we are all tricked into thinking that she and Will go to Europe together, and then we find out that Will’s just pretending  … what a life … er, death.

Hel is mentioned in a few stories. My basis for the realm is not so much in the scripture as it is in my own personal vision of Niflheim or what I think a young daughter of Loki may create. It is also the sort of world Will envisions Abigail living in. It is a realm of perpetual autumn, which, if you remember the show, the whole Shrike storyline takes place in the fall, so to Will, she may feel trapped in this golden memory of that experience together.

“Loki’s Offspring” in the Prose Edda tells us a little bit about Hel:

Hel, [Óðinn] cast into Niflheim, and gave her power over [the ninth world] that she should appoint abodes to them that are sent to her, namely, those who die from sickness or old age. She has there a great mansion, and the walls around it are of strange height, and the gates are huge. Eljudner is the name of her hall. Her table hight famine; her knife, starvation. Her man-servant’s name is Ganglate; her maid-servant’s, Ganglot. Her threshold is called stumbling-block; her bed, care; the precious hangings of her bed, gleaming bale. One-half of her is [black], and the other half is of the hue of flesh; hence she is easily known. Her looks are very stern and grim.

My Hel still feeds her dead with the meager pittance of a vast orchard. Obviously these are not Iðun’s apples, they are probably more akin to crab-apples, but she is doing her best to bring comfort to the dead.

Will runs into two dead folks in Niflheim. First is Sheldon Isley, aka Tree Man (S2E6), who gives him the Belladonna that Hannibal has stashed where his heart should have been.

The second is Beverly. Awww. I teared up writing Beverly’s part. Did you catch my “curiosity killed the Katz” joke? No? Well shit.

Oh, the dog’s name is Garm. He guards the entrance of Niflheim which is called Gnipa-cave. It’s irrelevant to know his name, but Will would want you to know (he’s mentioned again in the Prose Edda, “Ragnarök”).


God of Prisoners

So, my notes are getting ridiculous so I’ll just talk about this line: “We are both now at the mercy of time – awaiting the sword, the teeth, or the fall to kill us.”

At Ragnarök (Prose Edda, “Ragnarök”) and the end of Hannibal (assuming season four never happens), Heimdall fells Loki with his sword, Fenrir’s jaws kill Óðinn, and obviously, the cliff kills our boys. This could also reference Hannibal’s sweet chef’s knives and his teeth also being viable options for Will’s death and that brings me to my next strange headcanon.

In the Lord of the Gallows, I note how I imagine Will dying in Wrath of the Lamb. The stag asks Will if he “feels the teeth at the end”. My headcanon is that Hannibal tastes Will’s neck as they fall. Not like in a “kiss kiss” way or an “I’m hungry” kind of way but rather an “honor the flesh of my kindred spirit” kind of way. Hannibal really wanted to eat him. I mean he tried to eat him what, four times? If you don’t think he’d try again as his dying act … I’m not sure we watched the same show.

Of course, Bryan Fuller focuses a lot on all the physical pain Will is feeling at the end of Wrath, while he shows all the emotional pain Hannibal is in, so Hannibal may not be in a frame of mind to be so selfish that he would cause Will more pain at that point. Will has obviously changed him, so perhaps they die together in peace rather than pieces.


Foe of the Wolf

I feel for Will, I really do. He loves his dogs and to watch one as mighty as Fenrir be bound and hurt in such a way would be heartbreaking for him. Much like Tyr (the god who actually has his hand eaten by Fenrir), Will is ruled by his conscience and his honor (at least before Hannibal gets ahold of him). He wants to be fair and just. The greater good needs Fenrir bound, but as he loves and empathizes with the hound, he’s torn. This is how Will feels as the show shifts between season 2 and 3.

The wolf is tricked by three fetters (or ties) of which the first two he breaks free. The third is infused with magic and it ultimately ensnares him, leaving him bound (though still growing) until he breaks free at Ragnarök (Fenrir’s fettering story is in the Prose Edda, “Loki and his Offspring”).

But who is Fenrir to Will? Well, he’s a lot of things: regret and guilt of course, but ultimately Fenrir is Hannibal. Like Hel is the embodiment of what Hannibal took from Will, Fenrir is what Will took from Hannibal. Will betrayed Hannibal’s trust and he rejected his offering of friendship.

After losing his hand, Tyr fades from the myths until Ragnarök. I imagine him returning to the island to bring food to Fenrir, much like Will visiting Hannibal in prison. In the myth, Fenrir howls so loudly that his captors stab him in the mouth, a sword left to pry open his jaw, effectively silencing the beast (or effectively muzzling Hannibal with that infamous half-mask). Fenrir’s blood and saliva pour from his gaping maw to form the river Ván.

I imagine Tyr sitting by Fenrir as the wolf continues to grow, petting his ever-lengthening fur and never getting over what he’d done. While the other gods laughed when Fenrir was finally bound, Tyr doesn’t. The myth alludes that he doesn’t laugh because he’d just lost his hand, but I see him silently crying to himself, not in physical pain, but out of compassion for the friend he’d just betrayed.

Now Will is obviously a little more hardened than this, but can you imagine an empath who loves dogs and has an incredible guilt complex about betraying a friend reading this myth? He’d be inconsolable.

At Ragnarök, Tyr is killed in a battle against Garm (the dog that leads Will through Niflheim). There is debate over whether Garm and Fenrir are the same wolf because Garm is called Fenrir in the Poetic Edda’s “Voluspa” (they both are named in various places having howled at the gates of Niflheim). For this reason, I have Garm struggle with his chains as Will descends into Niflheim in chapter IX. The struggling bloodies and rips up Will’s hand, the hand he will eventually lose to Fenrir.

Fenrir, of course, breaks free of his fetter at the end of the world and consumes Óðinn. This is yet another reason why I think it’s appropriate to have Hannibal take a bite from Will as they fall. It just seems to be a fitting end.


Ruler of Treachery

The first time I published these notes (over a year ago), I had nothing to share about this chapter. During my edits, I eventually doubled the word count, and thought I’d have something to explain, but, alas, I still find little to say.

It’s Will. He’s never enjoyed therapy, so sitting him down with Alana to watch him squirm was something I felt compelled to do. Realistically, would Alana be his therapist after all the shit they went through? No. But that doesn’t matter. I started making my own headcanons for everything so bear with me if you find my interpretation of the show wildly inconsistent. I’ve only watched it once five years ago, so this was all written from memory.

I feel like this chapter sort of sets you up for the mental anguish the man is under. He’s not handling his separation from Hannibal well and no one is believing him when he claims to be “okay.”

I will say that getting to this point in the story was eye-opening for me as a writer. The way Will and Alana interact here is very strained. At the time these notes were written, I found myself in the middle of Unhitched, exploring Hopper’s relationship with his own Alana. It really drove home how original Hopper actually is as a character. I can’t call him Will Graham anymore, I feel like he’s practically an OC, like Nicky and Bill or Blue (I have no link to that little slut; I’m so sorry). Will is still inside Hopper, but he’s a warped version of himself, stretched and twisted due to his circumstances.

Okay, I won’t talk about Unhitched again.


Quarreler

I loved writing this chapter. This is based on the myth in which Thor battles Jörmungandr, the Midgard serpent (Prose Edda, “Thor’s Adventures”). I just couldn’t write this fiction without giving Will the opportunity to go fishing. Fishing is such a core part of his character. Once again, the serpent is another version of Hannibal (and Jörmungandr is also Loki’s offspring).

Thor is basically made to look a fool in a previous myth (a giant plays a few deceptive tricks on him) and he takes out his anger on the serpent (even though his rage is somewhat misplaced since the serpent didn’t trick him, the giant did). I gave Will a new resolve in this chapter. He’s a bit angrier, vengeful, and ready to stop the madness. He’s also made to feel a little foolish by the old man who continues to call him “boy.” In the myth, Thor appears as an older boy.

In the end, Will sacrifices his eye (like Óðinn) to pull the beast out of hiding much like he uses himself to find Hannibal in Europe (though in my fic, that has yet to happen). There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist.


Mover of Constellations

And just like that, Will is expected to move on. I wanted to make the death of One-eye just a blip in time. His death is unimportant to the world despite how deeply important he was to Will. This is how Will has always had to live. He becomes personally invested in people on a deep, almost spiritual level only to have them walk away, or be taken away, or simply not reciprocate his feelings.

He was seeing One-eye as a very important being – a soothsayer, somewhat. He was gaining personal insight that he’d never had before. And then the man was pulled from him and destroyed and that connection is suddenly severed.

Was One-eye actually important? Was he supernatural? Or was Will projecting all of that onto him because he is depressed, injured, terrified, and heartbroken? Who’s to say?

I can’t imagine living like Will. I have studied empathy for months trying to get a sense of what turmoil Will would have to live with. I understand why he wants to be alone. I understand how easily he can lose himself in others. He’s malleable and easily manipulated. It would be terrifying to feel that vulnerable constantly, especially after the last few years of being deceived, framed, and then losing the trust of your colleagues.

But anyway, we leave Will hellbent on finding Hannibal and finishing what they started and this is where we re-merge onto the canon timeline, right before Will heads out to find Hannibal.

I cannot believe you read all that. My god. You win a gold goddamn star, reader.

clutching at straws [notes]

Unhitched chapter notes …

Read chapter on AO3 Rated: E

The next few chapters will be shorter bursts of insight into Hopper’s current mental state. I originally wrote each section (seven in total) back to back, in one long chapter with section breaks, but when I realized it was 18k words, I suggested to my beta that I might break them into individual chapters (2-4k words each). He agreed with that sentiment, saying that it would preserve the disjointed feeling of this part of the story as well.

If this were a physical novel, you could simply read at your own pace, but unfortunately, the flow doesn’t translate well when the chapters are posted weeks apart (which I do for several reasons – time, story continuity, and visibility being three of them). This will not be an issue once it’s completed, but for now, I apologize. I’ve decided to err on the side of the story’s needs rather than the comfort of my faithful readers, and I’m sorry about that. But in the end, I think the integrity of the story’s flow will be upheld if I post each section a week or so apart. I will try to post them at a quicker pace if possible, but if you want to not read for a few chapters, I fully understand.

An update on the scale of this monster: I was aiming for 60 chapter. Looking at that now, it’s a laughable goal. The Music Man’s death and Hopper’s mental and physical recovery was supposed to be three chapters in total before they move on. At this point, it is eleven. What I mean is: Unhitched will go far beyond 60 chapters.

That said, this is not a story that’s being written to be published (but a huge thank you to all the readers who have said that it should be). The fic is far too long and covers way too much information for a standard novel. The word count alone is outrageous, but I promised myself that I would write it as an exercise in mood, emotion, continuity, symbolism, and characterization, WITHOUT an end goal of publication. Because I’m not limiting myself (with a word count or length), I can go into the more fun aspects of my characters by visiting their mind palaces/stream of consciousness, dreams, back stories, hallucinations, etc, without length constraints.

Most of you are already supportive of this – you don’t want me to skim or limit this AU, and I thank you all for that encouragement. <3

To the meat of the chapter: If you were confused by this chapter, know that it will all make sense in a bit, please bear with me while I edit. I will try to post as quickly as possible without screwing myself by overlooking something important. I have already gone back through the previous 30 chapter, sculpting, adding, and editing, so if you ever plan to reread it, there are new tidbits to discover.

The fable, in the beginning, is actually a retelling of Aesop’s The Monkey and the Dolphin, the moral being, “He who once begins to tell falsehoods is obliged to tell others to make them appear true, and, sooner or later, they will get him into trouble.” Hopper should be concerned by his unreliable narration, but who knows if he actually sees the reasons yet.

In other news, I know at least one of you is going to message me saying, “The Blue Oyster, Jo? Is that a reference to The Blue Oyster club from those Police Academy movies? Do you have any integrity left?”

I plead the fifth, and also, I never had any integrity to start with, so suck it, Tyler. And we all know Hopper would frequent a gay-ass leather bar if he could find one in Baltimore in the late 60s. THAT’S MY HEADCANON WHICH IS CANON NOW. EVERYONE CALLED HIM SLUTPUPPY.

As for the trees and the plants and all that yada, yada, I’m not going to get into the symbolism because (guess what?) it comes up later.

BUT … the Montrachet, Montrachet, I always talk about Montrachet because it’s Will favorite wine. From Red Dragon,

Graham, who owned almost nothing except basic fishing equipment, a third-hand Volkswagen, and two cases of Montrachet, felt a mild animosity toward the adult toys and wondered why.

This is extra funny because the “adult toys” are not dildoes as we all immediately imagined, but rather golf clubs, trail bikes, a skeet gun, a Nikon camera, and a projector.

Anyway, I can’t NOT write about the Montrachet because it’s also the “Bastard” wine that Bedelia uses to draw the police to Hannibal in the show, so I always include it somewhere in my fics.

Anyone familiar with locust trees? I am. I had a giant one in the front yard of my childhood home. They are covered in huge ass spikes.

The next few chapters will be shorter bursts of insight into Hopper’s current mental state. I originally wrote each section (seven in total) back to back, in one long chapter with section breaks, but when I realized it was 18k words, I suggested to my beta that I might break them into individual chapters (2-4k words each). He agreed with that sentiment, saying that it would preserve the disjointed feeling of this part of the story as well.

If this were a physical novel, you could simply read at your own pace, but unfortunately, the flow doesn’t translate well when the chapters are posted weeks apart (which I do for several reasons – time, story continuity, and visibility being three of them). This will not be an issue once it’s completed, but for now, I apologize. I’ve decided to err on the side of the story’s needs rather than the comfort of my faithful readers, and I’m sorry about that. But in the end, I think the integrity of the story’s flow will be upheld if I post each section a week or so apart. I will try to post them at a quicker pace if possible, but if you want to not read for a few chapters, I fully understand.

An update on the scale of this monster: I was aiming for 60 chapter. Looking at that now, it’s a laughable goal. The Music Man’s death and Hopper’s mental and physical recovery was supposed to be three chapters in total before they move on. At this point, it is eleven. What I mean is: Unhitched will go far beyond 60 chapters.

That said, this is not a story that’s being written to be published (but a huge thank you to all the readers who have said that it should be). The fic is far too long and covers way too much information for a standard novel. The word count alone is outrageous, but I promised myself that I would write it as an exercise in mood, emotion, continuity, symbolism, and characterization, WITHOUT an end goal of publication. Because I’m not limiting myself (with a word count or length), I can go into the more fun aspects of my characters by visiting their mind palaces/stream of consciousness, dreams, back stories, hallucinations, etc, without length constraints.

Most of you are already supportive of this – you don’t want me to skim or limit this AU, and I thank you all for that encouragement. <3

To the meat of the chapter: If you were confused by this chapter, know that it will all make sense in a bit, please bear with me while I edit. I will try to post as quickly as possible without screwing myself by overlooking something important. I have already gone back through the previous 30 chapter, sculpting, adding, and editing, so if you ever plan to reread it, there are new tidbits to discover.

The fable, in the beginning, is actually a retelling of Aesop’s The Monkey and the Dolphin, the moral being, “He who once begins to tell falsehoods is obliged to tell others to make them appear true, and, sooner or later, they will get him into trouble.” Hopper should be concerned by his unreliable narration, but who knows if he actually sees the reasons yet.

In other news, I know at least one of you is going to message me saying, “The Blue Oyster, Jo? Is that a reference to The Blue Oyster club from those Police Academy movies? Do you have any integrity left?”

I plead the fifth, and also, I never had any integrity to start with, so suck it, Tyler. And we all know Hopper would frequent a gay-ass leather bar if he could find one in Baltimore in the late 60s. THAT’S MY HEADCANON WHICH IS CANON NOW. EVERYONE CALLED HIM SLUTPUPPY.

As for the trees and the plants and all that yada, yada, I’m not going to get into the symbolism because (guess what?) it comes up later.

BUT … the Montrachet, Montrachet, I always talk about Montrachet because it’s Will favorite wine. From Red Dragon,

Graham, who owned almost nothing except basic fishing equipment, a third-hand Volkswagen, and two cases of Montrachet, felt a mild animosity toward the adult toys and wondered why.

This is extra funny because the “adult toys” are not dildoes as we all immediately imagined, but rather golf clubs, trail bikes, a skeet gun, a Nikon camera, and a projector.

Anyway, I can’t NOT write about the Montrachet because it’s also the “Bastard” wine that Bedelia uses to draw the police to Hannibal in the show, so I always include it somewhere in my fics.

Anyone familiar with locust trees? I am. I had a giant one in the front yard of my childhood home. They are covered in huge ass spikes.

And that tree sent several of us kids to the hospital.

And that brings us to the end where Hopper collapses to the ground until his attention is drawn to a sweet voice he never thought he’d hear again. Hell, I never thought I’d write for her in this fic, but then again, why not? Let’s get some girl power up in this sausagefest. More on that to come.

All of that said: Please don’t hesitate to comment! I’d love to hear your insights, ideas, comments, or predictions! I do not bite! I am not someone to be intimidated by! I’m just writing a bizzaro story about cannibal truckers, and I’d love to hear from you.

Have you made any art for Unhitched? I’d LOVE to see it!

Have you tried your hand at Hopper and written a spin-off? Share that shit with me, goddamn it!

Comments make my day and if you don’t think I put a hellish amount of time and effort into his fic, you do not understand how this works.

Just know that I truly appreciate every comment (even the bad ones) and try to reply to everyone, though sometimes it can take me weeks to do so. If you’re nervous and don’t want me to reply, just say so! (Like: Reply not necessary.).

A lot of time and energy go into this fic, and I want to thank you all so very much for reading and for providing me with your continued support. I can’t wait to share more with you.

fools rush in [notes]

Unhitched chapter notes …

Read chapter on AO3

Did you know that Chris Diamantopoulos who played Clark “Should Have Crawled Back in There, If He Knew What Was Good for Him” Ingram was voicing Mickey Mouse while filming Hannibal?

Isn’t that just a fun fact?

Has the poster for “Get a Horse!” been shopped like this yet? If not, consider it my gift to the fandom.

Moving on to story time, I asked my loyal team of 1970s experts to come up with something weirdly 70s to set the tone of this chapter, and the resounding answer was: “Wasn’t everyone doing yogi or something? I remember lots of brown leotards and all that crap.”

Thanks, Dad. He meant yoga.

By the way, you can thank my old man for all of Hopper’s asylum talk from a few chapters ago. I don’t think I ever mentioned our conversation so I will briskly sum it up below because it’s Father’s Day. Some background: My dad is sort of a rock of a man, both generous and steadfast. He has a degree in biology, is hard-working, used to run track, and was once scouted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Before I start, here’s my old man with a tumbleweed circa 1979. He was 25 years hairy and apparently in love with that tumbleweed.

“Did I ever tell you about the time your grandparents had me locked in the nuthouse after I fell off a truck?”

Um, what? WTF. No. You never did.

“I was eighteen and goofing off in the back of a friend’s pick-up. We were headed up the mountain to a party. You remember my buddy, Jeff? He fell out too and landed on top of me and we sort of slid down the road. He was fine, but I lost all the skin on my back – had to get grafts off my ass.”

Oh, my god, Dad! What the hell?! I didn’t know that!

“Oh yeah, it was bad. I didn’t really feel it, though, I was too drunk and high. A few weeks later, I sort of went crazy – started hearing things after the accident. Tried to kill a burglar with my crossbow. I was convinced he’d locked himself inside my dad’s gun safe. They opened it up and there was no burglar, so they sent me to North Warren to calm down.”  [I want to note that he rolled his eyes at that comment.] “They gave me a couple spinal taps and everything. Now, I want to tell you something: that shit is fucking painful. Some giant woman who took no shit from anyone had to hold me down. It was brutal.”

Jesus, Dad! What did you do?

“Well, I wasn’t violent or anything, but I wasn’t medicated either, not like what they did to your grandmother … Those hospitals were really boring because they never gave you anything to do. It’s like being in a drunk tank, but they never let you go because you don’t “sober up”. It was weird being around all those sick people, too. It was pretty scary for a kid. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, so I played cards with some guy who seemed normal, but he took a lot of meds, you know – lithium, I think. Everyone was on lithium.”

Good lord. How’d you get out?

“Well, Jeff was pissed because with me locked up, he lost his drinking buddy, so he broke into the asylum one night with a six-pack of beer and after we finished it off, he decided to bust me out. We lived in the woods for a few days until the cops stopped looking for me.”

Holy mother fucking shit. XD

I guess, what are friends for? (I suddenly have a new bunny for a teen Hannigram one-shot.) Also, so you can picture Jeff: imagine Tommy Chong from Up in Smoke. Even now, in his 60s, Jeff still sounds like a stoner. He’s amazing.

“Ah, it was the 70s,” said my dad, all nonchalant. Apparently, that was the style at the time.

Anyway, my mom confirmed all that, adding bits and pieces that were just as fucked up, then my Dad proceeded to tell me what went on in the basement after he went back to visit North Warren a few years later. You don’t want to know, and honestly, I don’t want to repeat it.

So back to Unhitched … there was some sort of obsession with Indian culture in the 70s so I ran with it. There was something quite enjoyable about dropping Franklyn at the front door, dressed in his gauzy swami-wear and eventually eating cheese.

The Carnatic style of playing the violin is an Indian technique which I’m sure you’ve all heard, though you might not know it.

I then sent everyone on a little visual journey to India, too, because I wanted you all to imagine Mads in a white suit and hat. No reason. I was just reading a lot of Rudyard Kipling when I wrote this. What’s he have to do with anything? Well, he wrote a lot about India and, naturally, mongooses, and with the current issues in my home country of The United States of What the Fuck is Going On, I’ve been listening to Donovan’s 1970s classic “Riki Tiki Tavi”. Give it a listen. You’ll like it.

Do you feel how meandering a writer’s mind is? It’s very chaotic.

I was grateful to have my husband’s musical mind for this particular chapter with Tobias. We’ve actually had conversations about who he thinks was the most “underrated librettist” and when I asked him to name a composter that he thought Butcher would abhor, he immediately said Arnold Schoenberg, because everyone hates Schoenberg. I didn’t totally agree that Butch would hate him, but the “atonal orgies” that all his critics call his work was too funny to pass up. Also, Schoenberg had triskaidekaphobia or a fear of the number 13. This is only funny to me because I know how this shit storm ends.

From Star Trek to Paganini, the research for this chapter was extensive but enjoyable. Chordophone, by the way, was the name of Tobias’s shop in the show and means “stringed instrument” of course. If you’ve researched anything about luthiers (stringed instrument makers) you have to know the name, Kevin Lee. That eccentric bastard is a goddamn genius, and I love his YouTube channel. I never got to use this info, but Jakob Stainer, the famous German master luthier, went mad and died on his front porch in 1683 in a straightjacket and muzzle all Hannibal Lecter style. Kevin Lee owns one of Paganini’s medals and Stainer’s straightjacket because, of course he does. He also blows shit up in the desert and carves angels into his violins. He’s incredible.

The research for fics is the part that’s hard to explain to people. Fanfic writers have a million tabs open on their browsers at all times and a ton of bookmarks. We be like, “It’s a one-shot!” and yet our history is all …

That’s not even 1% of my bookmarks for Unhitched. I have even read the DSM I. Why? I dunno. I have copies of all of them so I can stay historically accurate as my Will Grahams are institutionalized through the ages.

About 70% of what Hopper and The Music Man discuss in the workshop is a combination of various philosophical teachings and the musings of Miguel Cervantes in Don Quixote.

“I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is.

Pain, misery, hunger … cruelty beyond belief.  I have heard the singing from taverns and the moans from bundles of filth on the streets.  I have been a soldier and seen my comrades fall in battle … or die more slowly under the lash in Africa.  I have held them in my arms at the final moment.  These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing.  No glory, no gallant last words … only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question, “Why?”  I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?  Perhaps to be too practical is madness.  To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash.  Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all:  to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”

This is actually an interjection by Miguel Cervantes who was the supposed “translator” of the historical documents that make up Don Quixote. I like the self-referential aspects of the book and made The Music Man and Hopper yell this bit back and forth as they discuss their personal justifications for all that they do.

First-time authors apparently make their main characters bookworms a lot because it’s a habit they’re well familiar with. Stephen King does this a lot, making his main characters authors … I’m not a bookworm though, so I have no idea why I made Hopper an English teacher (I mean he’s a teacher in canon, but … he didn’t have to study English). It’s actually way more work than I expected it to be. He has to feel educated, but a little aloof, and his vocabulary has to be simultaneously refined but also colloquial because he was still raised blue collar. Plus, it’s the 70s, but he was born in the 30s and raised in the 40s and 50s. It’s not actually a story “set” in the 70s other than the little techie and cultural reference bits. Hopper wouldn’t use the slang of the 70s, he’d use the slang he grew up with as a teen in the 50s.

But picture it: teen Hopper in the 50s … are you imagining him in a malt shop? Or maybe he’s a Greaser. Hannibal’s a Soc. Is this a fic already? It better be. “Stay golden, Lonelyboy.”

I have nothing more to add to this. If you have a comment or questions, drop me a line. If you want to be anon, feel free to anon me here on Tumblr with your commentary. Don’t forget to comment on the fic if you’re having a swell time with my boys. It really makes my day.

I’m still working on responding to old comments, but I will get there. Stay tuned for more stuff, readers. I’m not back in the saddle yet, but at least I opened the horse! Er, no, I mean barn door.

the great red dagon [boot tread]

Prompt from a comment on AO3:

How about a prompt based off of this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagon_(film)?

CoralQueen

Now, this is an interesting prompt. The link takes you to the 2001 Spanish movie based on the H.P. Lovecraft novella, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, but the title is also the name of a short story which the movie is not based on, Dagon.

For this prompt, I went with the short story, Dagon, which you can all read here. It’s only 2200 words. I went outside the box for this prompt. I hope you all enjoy it.

This ficlet was originally posted on Archive of Our Own (AO3) as a short story written by one of my reoccurring fictional characters, Hopper. At the time, it was an essay he had written for his creative writing class in 1956  (complete with several errors).

1627 words

Cristobal Diaz | OCEANA

No one believed me by the time we had reached the shore. I was mad. They called me “touched by the sea,” but had no idea of the horrors I had witnessed. They hauled me inland as per my request and gave me an unlimited supply of sedatives. I did not argue, and this is why.

We were halfway to Alaska, netting the mighty blue, when we were caught in a deluge that rivaled The Great Flood. Sheets pummeled us, drowning out orders and warnings, and the mighty wind cracked against us, tipping the vessel to its side. Even our great mass was not heavy enough to stabilize the hull. The stern let out a holler that put the lightning to shame, and we were suddenly in two pieces and drowning.

I floundered and tread until I hauled myself into a small lifeless boat, already filled with water and nearly sinking. I bailed what I could, and by the time only an inch of brine was left under my heels, the storm had vanished, and with it went my ship, the crew, and the choppy waters.

The sea was suddenly glass. No breeze rippled it or moved my boat. I was soaked and now dead in the water. I feared to reach over the side, as the sea seemed to cut my boat like a knife. I was set on a mirror that reflected the blinding sun, scorching my skin as I waited for someone or something to find me.

I never thought I would wish for a pistol to turn upon myself, but by day two, when I had not drifted a discernible distance or wetted my cracking lips, I yearned for a bullet to end it. That yearning was just as palpable on day three when they finally found me. They were not Americans on large vessels, or Inuits in dugout canoes. They did not glide across the glass to me, nor did they soar overhead and spot me from a trans-pacific flight. They came from below.

Black webbed fingers crept over the edge of my boat, two at first, and then three. Three hands turned to six and I scrambled to the stern. In a matter of seconds, the boat was flipped and the bright open sky bubbled above me. I thrashed but grew weak and those webbed fingers gripped my ankles and hauled me down until the bubbling sky was an abyss miles above.

They took me where the sun no longer feeds the sea plants.  They took me to a place where schools of fish refuse to hide and the mighty sharks won’t hunt. They took me to the bottom of a great chasm cut into the earth like a scar on the face of the sea floor. They took me to a stone chamber where I was left to choke and writhe on the lung-filling icy liquids of the deep, begging for death, though it never came.

Days are not days without the sun. Nights are not nights without the filling moon. Time is unending at the bottom, and the pain in my chest was ceaseless. If given the chance, however, I would relive those freshly inflicted pains until the earth collapsed upon itself. I would live again through every burning, aching false breath and the agony of my newly frozen eyes. I would welcome once more, my numb fingers and empty gut until the universe exploded, just to avoid reliving what would happen next.

He came one day or night, I know not which. He did not rap or call to me. I was hauled out and presented to him, tied with ropes to a cross made of metal pipes from my own ship.

White globes encircled and cast us in an eerie, bewitching light. He was not a man but a beast of the depths. His body was gray, cut from stone and covered in fleshy scales. His arms were that of a titan, bulging and brutal and at the ends he bore black webbed fingers. His head was more like a honed skull than a human face. Thick pouting lips covered the fangs that protruded from his jaw and golden eyes pierced me as I wrenched against my bone-chilling restraints. As he hovered in front of me, studying me as one might a rotting corpse that washed ashore, I finally saw the rest of him.

At his hip were not legs, but a long undulating silver tail. It shone like a mirror as it flicked below his body, reflecting the orbs that circled us. An icy chill radiated from it, and though I was already numb, the cold plowed through me and I shook.

A glint caught my eye and I saw in his hand what I will never forget. He held a knife, bowed like a raptor’s claw. I couldn’t yell through the water which perpetually filled my mouth, nor thrash against my crucifix. I was stuck and waiting to be gutted like a fish.

Just below my ribs, I felt the knife slide into my body. My mouth grew agape but no shriek echoed through my watery prison. I swallowed my tongue in agonizing pain as I watched the creature disappear in a cloud of vibrant red.

My body burned and writhed and another rosy murk pulsed from below. I was twisted and yanked and was again consumed by another throb of crimson fog. When the attack suddenly ceased and the water began to clear, I felt my chest slowly rise as I floated from my lower half. Then two sharp gashes cut my wrists from my hands and consequentially my restraints, and I was left adrift.

When I awoke I had been returned to my stone cave at the bottom of the endless chasm. My body had been massacred and I shook with shock and misery. I dared not touch myself, for I knew no hands remained. When my torment grew too great, I finally pawed at my phantom legs with what was left of my frozen stumps. What I found were tingling fingers sliding down a slimy tail. Over my gut were coarse and crudely-stitched cords, laced between my soft flesh and the cold silvery tail of my captor.

In the glow of the single orb that lit my cell, I could see in its moonlight my black webbed hands. They did not move like my hands, they ached with each flick of my wrist. They trembled and pulsed, sending long black veins up my now naked arms.

I dared not look upon my tail. It was grotesque and unnatural and I was fearful of it. I could move around my cell with ease and grace, but the sheer magnitude of its strength terrified me. It had razors down its spine, and in its silver scales, I could see the outline of my face. I’d looked once, and what I saw was ungodly so I never looked again.

I was neither fed nor clothed, but left for an eternity to rot. Over time, my skin bloated and softened like a dead fish and chunks were nibbled away by passing crabs. I gradually covered in a slippery mucous by the fungus that grew on the walls of my craggy hole.

I begged for sweet death to come and rescue me, since my heart had stopped beating years before, but that cruel witch never came. Perhaps she was as scared of him as I was.

He returned not long after I’d given up. I’d burrowed beneath the sandy bottom when I felt fingers grasp my gritty hair. I was ripped from the ground and twisted to face him, his golden eyes furious at what his glorious tail had become. It hung loose and pathetic from my abdomen, the cords pulling and gaping below my navel. My white skin stretched and tore from the mighty girth hanging from it, and a lack of use had caused my long black fingers to twist into ebony claws.

He bared his silvery fangs, bubbles erupting from his nose and mouth. I had laid unmoving on the seabed, allowing the bottom dwellers to pick at my skin and my sanity, and he was furious at this disrespect I showed him. The knife glinted again and I closed my eyes this time, as it tore into me with an even greater and more ferocious fervor. We were plunged again into a great red plume that devoured us both, and then some. I waited for more, but there was only one crimson tide before the creature, and the depths, took my consciousness from me.

When I awoke on my back, surrounded by merchants ordering me to breathe, they were certain it was a nightmare I had witnessed. The men yelled and screamed and demanded to know who I was and from where I had come. I spoke of a creature who gave me black hands and I showed them. They scoffed at my lily-white fingers. I pleaded for their faith that a creature sewed a tail to me, but when I kicked my legs, they laughed.

I was mad. I was locked away where I begged for sedation. Instead, they plunged me into twilight sleep, though I had already lived through a decade of that at the bottom of the great ocean. They left me to flounder in a forgotten room in a long-abandoned building. They left me weak and comatose, waiting yet again for death, and this punishment was fair and just. They said I had been “touched by the sea,” and would never know how right they truly were. The sea had given me a rare gift, and I wasted it.

mixed emotions [notes]

Unhitched chapter notes …

Read chapter on AO3

This Tumblr post is going to be another random info dump because my mind isn’t functioning in any logical order at the moment (writer’s block and cold meds). In fact, that was my personal challenge for this chapter: jump in time, scatter the order of events, and somehow keep it readable – present, near past, far past, present again, a fleeting memory, near past again, etc …

The Desease and Desist

Do you even remember that? It feels like a million years ago. Also, that was the stupidest joke I have ever written, and I refuse to apologize. 

Question: Would Hopper know who Mapplethorpe was?

Answer: No. Mapplethorpe’s X portfolio wasn’t even produced until 1978. *gasp*

Mapplethorpe was a photographer in the 70s who took a lot of black and white photos of the underground New York City BDSM community. There is no reason for you to know this or for me to share this info. Hopper wouldn’t know anything about him, so my #headcanon (which I suppose is just #canon) is that Hopper got a blowjob from one of Mapplethorpe’s models at a gas station in Catonsville, MD. He was a transient with a few copies of his photos from the shoot. He had a thing for latex and mouth tubes. Let’s call him NYC Joe.

Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation | J. Paul Getty Museum

The names.

We left chapter 28 with Harvey Dent/Two-Face and a feather-covered Axe. By ch. 29 (and a month later) those names have morphed into the two-faced Greek god, Janus and Fledge.

Naturally, Butcher would take this opportunity to jab Hopper by calling him a wee bird (a fledgling) and Hopper’s attempted jab at calling Butcher a villain (Two-Face) was never going to stand. Butcher basically refuses Hopper’s new name for him and starts calling himself Janus, the two-faced god of transitions and doorways. No symbolism, bro.

The door carvings.

Let me attribute all those back-and-forth carved quotes for you:

Butcher: “He was not a prisoner of fate, but a prisoner of his own mind.
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Hopper: “There is no heavier burden than a great potential.
— Linus (Charles M. Schultz)

Butcher: “Love feels no burden.
— Thomas a Kempis (Medieval priest and author)

Hopper: “When no one loves you, you have to pretend everyone loves you.
— Sally (Charles M. Schultz)

Butcher: “Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.
— Victor Hugo

Hopper: “Happiness is a warm puppy.”
— Lucy (Charles M. Schultz)

So, why all the Peanuts quotes? Because canon-Will made that stupid analogy comparing the, um, situation with Abigail to “Lucy and the football,” and for some reason that says more about Will’s personality to me than anything else he does for rest of the show. “Lucy and the football” was about as jarringly unpoetic as Hannibal’s “mic-drop”.

Charles M Schultz Museum

“Augh!” —Will Graham, being emotionally and physically gutted by the death of his surrogate daughter

Old Macdonald and his big ugly wife.

I have no commentary on this. I just wanted to type it again.

This chapter isn’t that deep. I only really wanted to share the door quotes. So that’ it.

I’ll be taking a break from Unhitched for a bit. It’s draining and I have a really strong urge to do a massive pick-apart and edit to the first 28 chapters.

Sorry to leave you all hanging at THIS particular spot. The next chapter is ludicrous.


I warmly welcome all comments on the fic. I’d be eternally grateful for any and all encouragement. It’s been a rough month (for Hopper too!) and I, like everyone, am not immune to blocks. They suck in the most discouraging way.

Thank you all so very much for reading. It means a lot to me. <3

dog-eat-dog [notes]

Unhitched chapter notes …

Read chapter on AO3

First, I promise there is a plot, like a legitimate plot with action and a point. For some reason, ch 27 was originally 1k words strapped to the beginning of a said actiony chapter. Then I was all, “You know what I want? A mind palace or something,” and then I added 5k more words and a whole new plot arc and IT’S NOT COMPLICATED THOUGH. I swear.

If you believe anything I say, you have not been reading carefully. I am a very unreliable author. *head desk*

I don’t feel like this chapter was unnecessary, but it does seem to drag. I’m sorry about that if you feel it dragging. But maybe it’s just me because I’ve read it 800 times. I feel like I lost my ability to pace in the last few months. The last two chapters were building up to this inevitability (ch 27) and I swear there will be less redundancy in the very near future.


redundant [n.] –

  1. characterized by verbosity or unnecessary repetition in expressing ideas.
  2. exceeding what is usual or natural.
  3. having some unusual or extra part or feature.
  4. characterized by superabundance or superfluity.

Oh, who am I kidding, the first definition applies too.


That said … they fuck – missionary, then doggy, teaspoons, then lotus – for reasons … probably. I’m not a fan of symbolism.

FYI, I’m not doing the lube stuff anymore, at least not for now. It’s implied. You don’t need to read about it all the time. Did the Jinn lube up in American Gods? No. (Look at me making that ridiculous comparison. I’m laugh-crying now.) And you don’t necessarily know what Butcher did while Hop was sleeping (creepy bastard). Just assume they are still slicked up from the last sexual escapade they all went on. It’s not like animal fat dries out and disappears or something …

The “no more unnecessary descriptions of lube” declaration is a blanket statement tossed over the rest of the fic because Unhitched is rapidly turning into a philosophical novel, and how much lube does Plato really talk about?

Ok, I looked that up. A little actually … in Protagoras. But he’s talking about olive oil and he basically says “USE IT IN MODERATION.” And he’s talking about eating it, not fuckin’ with it, but who am I kidding … he was Greek. I mean … we all know what he says in Symposium … ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Men who are a section of that double nature which was once called androgynous [the man/woman beast that Zeus split to form the sexes] are lovers of women, adulterers are generally of this breed, and also adulterous women who lust after men. The women who are a section of the woman do not care for men, but have female attachments: the female companions [that is, lesbians] are of this sort. But they who are a section of the male follow the male, and while they are young, being slices of the original man, they have affection for men and embrace them [the Greek verb implies a sexual sense], and these are the best of boys and youths, because they have the most manly nature.

Plato said that the manliest men were the little gay boys … I’m kidding. Not really though; we’re talking young truckers dressed in flannel and slicked in oil … Blue? Nah. Why am I talking about Plato? I don’t even mention him in this chapter. Maybe the next though …

Stopped_clock |hellorf.com

Hopper has a dream – a very strange dream. What is your take on the dream? I  know my take on the dream, but that’s ‘cause it’s in my head.

Then it gets a little kissy. Declarations of love (to be inside each other – no rampant symbolism there) and some nipple tonguing is thrown in (for a friend) and then the bite that ruins EVERYTHING (not really though).

Hopper is such a twat. Why’s he gotta be so antagonistic? Butcher’s just doing what the good lord makes him do! *CHOMP CHOMP* (That’s all a lie.)

And then we got to his quiet stream. Readers of my Pusher/Hannibal fic, A Thousand Dreadful Things, might recognize Hop’s stream. It’s behind Will’s farmhouse in Purcellville where he likes to hide. It’s also where Tonny kicks Freddie’s ass and where Tonny gets to watch Will have a panic attack. Fun times. That was a pairing no one asked for, but you got it anyway. Huzzah!

So teeth and eyes … that was the inspiration for ch 27 in case you missed …

  • 15 uses of teeth
  • 11 uses of jaw
  • 9 uses of bite
  • 30+ uses of stares/looks/eye fucking/whathaveyou

I have this “beast with many teeth” meets “beast with many eyes” thing going, and they are doing the monster mash …

Out of curiosity, do you all lose respect for me after these long-winded posts in which I ramble and blather and divulge shit no one cares about? Because I do.

Hey, this is jewelweed:

Belleville New Democrat

And all that shit I said about it is true if you didn’t know.

It really does shine underwater.

flora.forager | Instagram

See? Pretty and relevant (later, though).

Oh yeah, I reference shit that happened in ch. 15: Ride out the Stormch 21: I am a Victimch 26: Like Grimm Death and probably more. Who’s keeping track?! *sweating intensifies*


In case you were unaware, these chapters are carefully stitched together and fawned over for weeks. I edit them daily (in many cases over 20 times by the time they are posted), painstakingly selecting every single word with intention and a purpose. It then goes to my anal retentive editor who I pay in sexual favors. He’s cool with it.

Not having the entire story finished is a monumental burden, because I have to keep track of over 120k words without missing one because some of you fuckers are analyzing this fic like it’s a goddamn Shakespearean play.

I love you, though, because you see beyond just the surface. You read down into the several layers of meaning, and you start to get a glimpse of just how much work has been poured into this fic. My heart goes out to all my readers for sticking with me and encouraging me thus far, despite the long update time. Much love, folks, many kisses.

And let’s not forget: it’s all FREEE!!! *whooping and hollering and crying*

In other words, support your favorite authors. And I’m not trying to make you comment on my work. I’m not your favorite. The writer with all that fluffy smut is your favorite. Go find them and comment on your favorite fic. Make that author’s day. If you get enjoyment from fic authors, pay it back a little. Writing isn’t easy.

cookies [boot tread]

Part of Unhitched’s prompt collection, Boot Tread

Prompt from Tumblr: 

I grew up … around [trucker] culture, where truckers love nicknames, booze (gallons) and Girl Scout Cookies. Lucky for me, I never had to sell a cookie, I gave the sheet to dad, he gave it to the truckers and they bought cases. Not boxes, cases. I can see Hopper loving him some Girl Scout Cookies and Butcher giving him shit about it.

 dandelion_wishes

2484 words

Rated: G
Girl Scouts of the USA | People

We’re coming up on the truck stop exit when he peers over at me. “Why am I getting off the highway, Hop?” 

“Because I asked nicely.” He loves it when I’m vague, but he hasn’t changed lanes yet. I’m not sure he’s enjoying it this time.

“You’ve got to give me a better reason than that or I’m staying put. Have a plan? Target? Need something?”

“We have nowhere to be, Butcher, just let me pick where we’re going for a change. Get off here and head east toward those houses back there.”

He eyes me but does exactly as asked, though he’s huffing and scoffing the whole time. He knows I’m still pissed about his incessant nit-picking about where and when we eat. I’m getting sick of his stews and dutch oven cooking. Campfires are nice when you don’t have to rely on them for every hot scrap of food you eat. I’m not saying the shit he makes isn’t good; I just want to eat something that hasn’t been smoked, covered in a wine-tinged gravy, or pressed into a three-inch square.

“Pull off,” I say, and he parks in a gravel lot by the off ramp. “I’m going for a walk.” I grab my school bag from behind my seat, dump out the books and gear, and pop open my door.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, son. What am I going to do without your pretty little face keeping me company?”

“You’ll live. I need a break. You’re driving me crazy.” I’m about to jump out when he stops me.

“Get the hell back in here. You can’t take off like that. ”

I turn to him because he’s right. I can’t just leave willy-nilly without saying goodbye. I lean over the console, grab his shirt, and pull his mouth into mine. He gasps because he was probably expecting a slap, but I like to keep the bastard on his toes.

His eyes eventually close as I pull him against me, sucking and chewing on his lips. It’s when I let go of his shirt and slip my hand down the back of his pants that he pulls away.

“What the hell are you doing, Hopper?”

I peck his cheek, steal the smokes from his breast pocket, and slide back into my seat. “Going for a walk, Sugar. Don’t leave without me.” I snicker and drop out of the cab before he says a goddamn word, and book it for the truck stop. I am getting something decent to eat. Fuck him and his murder wagon. I can’t take that goddamn food anymore. 

On the other side of the underpass is the truck stop. It’s flanked by a 7-Eleven and a strip mall on one side, and a diner and a Piggly Wiggly on the other. I’ve finally found a decent civilization to explore. I’m hitting the supermarket first and then I’m grabbing a coffee, a slice of pie, and plate of food that I didn’t have to chase down and tackle.

In my hand is Butcher’s wallet. I lifted it when the bastard was getting hard with my tongue down my throat. I feel a little bad about that, but not really. I have no money and he sure as hell wasn’t going to give me any for this little jaunt.

I’m halfway to the store when a familiar and mouthwatering sight catches my eye. A couple of little girls, maybe ten, eleven, are pulling a red wagon down the sidewalk. Rosy cheeks, long brown hair on both of them – just my type. They are laughing and having a grand old time.

My plans immediately change. Fuck coffee, fuck pie. I’ve always been more of a cookie man myself, so I take off to catch up to them.

“Hey girls!” They stop and turn right when I reach them. “Whatcha got there?”

“We got sandwich cookies, chocolate mints, Shorties, and the peanut butter ones. All out of the Pecanettes. Did you want some?”

“I do indeed. They still fifty cents?”

“For the small ones, yeah. A dollar for the big boxes. They’re new.”

“How much for all of them?” I say. I’m starving.

“All of them?!” They look at each other like I’m crazy. I could have done the math in my head, but they’re the ones supposedly building life skills here.

The taller one picks through the boxes. “Twenty-three dollars for all of them.”

“Sold! You are one hell of a salesman, sweetheart.”

The girls giggle while I sift through Butcher’s wallet. He is going to be pissed. He has a twenty, a five, and a couple singles, and I should really tip these gals. Their feet have got to be killing them by now, and Butcher wouldn’t want me to be rude. I hand them the twenty and the five and I dismiss the change while they start handing me boxes.

“How many of these are chocolate mints?” I wonder, fingering the stack in the girl’s arms.

“Uh, I think three.”

“Only three?” Damn it. I was hoping more. She hands me boxes and I start filling my satchel. Have you ever had to carry thirty boxes of cookies? It’s problematic. My bag’s puking, I’ve got them stashed under each arm, and a half-dozen tucked in my coat.

The girls are giddy because they get the rest of the afternoon off, while I’m left shell-shocked about what the flying fuck I just did. It’s all the goddamn shit Butcher’s feeding me. I can’t think straight. Why the hell did I just buy thirty boxes of cookies?

The girls thank me with a couple curtsies and carry on their merry way, an empty Radio Flyer nipping at their heels. I’m now in the middle of a parking lot with a couple armloads of cookies and nowhere to go.

I grab some coffee at the 7-Eleven, still juggling boxes, and plop down under the grocery store awning with my haul. A hot cup o’ mud, a smoke, a partially crushed box of shortbreads, and no Butcher slapping food out of my hand. I am in heaven.

It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to sit and watch people interact. I’m not picking marks, or locks, or leaves out of my teeth after diving off a porch to hide. I’m just enjoying the peace of a revving and bustling truck stop. Moms on vacation are stripping and changing their messy kids in back seats. The dads are checking tire pressure and shooting the shit with the chatty station attendants. Good buddies are meeting for a bite at the diner before the road takes them halfway across America. Deisel and chicken grease fill my nose and the warm concrete under my ass never stops rumbling. I said it was heaven and I meant it.

The shortbreads are perfect – crumbly and sweet – and I pop the lid off my coffee to let it cool. This is the life, right here and now on the ground outside of a Piggly Wiggly. This is what I can’t get Butcher to see. He has his ideas about what constitutes a good life – special meals cooked with “special” meat, a certain level of civility maintained with trimmed nails and good posture – but he misses this. He misses the sweet smiles you can give little girls when you take a silly burden off their shoulders. He misses the absurd frivolity of being a grown-ass man with thirty boxes of cookies shoved in his jacket.

Jokes and puns are fun and all, but what happened to sitting in the shade and having a smoke? What happened to just sucking each other off and going fishing one afternoon? We can eat a piece of pie in a diner without waxing on about rabbits and butterflies and fucking mongooses. 

Point is: I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t chase after him to have the joy sucked out of my life. I’m chasing him because he has a nice ass, a sharp tongue, and he fits me like a glove. He saw me in the shadows because he is a creature of the night. And I do sometimes thank him for noticing me. We all like to be seen on occasion, but just because he can see me, doesn’t mean he sees all of me.

I don’t share his opinions on God. I don’t share his opinions on happiness. And I sure as shit don’t share his opinions on what constitutes good fucking food. It pisses him off, but so be it. Let the scary man sulk.

It’s getting late when I finish the pack of cigarettes and debate opening another box of the chocolate mints. They are my favorite, but honestly, I’d rather wait and save them for a special occasion. My coffee’s gone anyway, and I realize that I now have to walk back to the truck, juggling the remnants of my shameful purchase. Maybe I can convince Butch to try one … maybe the bastard will like it?

I gather up the boxes and my bag and make my way back through the underpass. The sun’s barely setting and he’s outside the truck, watching Garm bouncing around in the weed. He sees me, and he’s already shaking his head.

“Do I have to put a goddamn leash on you, boy!?” he shouts.

“Sounds good to me,” I say back. 

He’s laughing, but his jaw is clenched so tight his cheeks are bulging.

“Three strikes,” he says. “In a single go, too. What’s to be done about that?”

“What do you mean three? I bought us snacks for the road … One strike at best.”

He holds up three fingers. “One, you bought junk that neither of us is putting in our mouths. Two, you stole my wallet, you little shit. Three, you lied to me.”

“One, it’s not junk; it’s delicious. Two, I have no money so you leave me no choice but to pick your pocket. Three, I did not lie. You are insufferable, and I had to take a walk.”

“When I agreed to let you have your little walks, that agreement did not include thievery or whatever the hell this is,” he says, gesturing around my stuffed coat.

“I was peckish.”

“You are not eating that shit. It’s full of processed garbage. Your body is a temple, not a dump.”

“It’s my temple, and it wants to bask in the processed garbage.”

“Our temple, and too bad.”

“Fight me, you dick!”

He finally cracks a smile, but still  motions for me to hand over the goods. I drop everything to the ground in a pile. If he’s going to be this anal-retentive, he can toss it all out himself.

I kick a couple boxes under the truck and then pat my thigh. Garm bolts out of the tall grass and joins me as I hop back in the truck. He can take my snacks like an asshole, but at least I got some peace today without him peering over my shoulder while I read or grilling me on Descartes while I’m trying to take a shit.

I pull off my boots and flop in the sleeper while Garm curls up in the driver’s seat. My pocket crinkles as I land and I realize I still have half a sleeve of shortbreads on my person. Lucky me. I can hear Butcher shuffling around the truck, chucking my treasures into the weeds. Well, fuck him. I’m going to enjoy my last bit of peace before that blackbird of unhappiness starts cawing in my face again.

I have three shorties in my mouth when I hear the door creak open. The dome light flicks on, throwing it’s shameful glow across my sorry ass, chewing on a pile of cookies like a rat. I force my jaw shut and scramble to hide the wrapper. As he steps up, I choke and blast crumbs all over myself and the bed. He stops and stares as I fight to breathe through the dry wad desiccating my mouth.

“I’m fine,” I choke.

“Hopper, what is God’s name are you doing?”

I cough and clear my throat. “You’re a joy sucker, Butch. You suck joy.”

“That’s not all–“

“Enough dick jokes!” I cough.

He holds up his hands. “Alright, Hopper, calm down,” he snickers. “I know you prefer swallowing, but you might want to consider spitting thatmouthful out.”

I glare at him and swallow as I wipe my mouth and dust the crumbs off my shirt. He chuckles and crawls into bed, flopping next to me.

“You know what your problem is?” I ask.

“Tell me what’s wrong with me, Hop. But use small words so you don’t choke again.”

“You hate happiness. You loathe it, actually.”

He snickers and unbuckles his belt. “I’m the happiest fucker who ever lived, Hop. And you know that.” He slides off his jeans and tosses them to the front seat like we aren’t having a serious discussion in which we should both remain fully clothed.

“I’m trying to talk to you,” I say, but his hand is untucking my shirt so it can slide up my belly.

“You think I stifle your happiness. You think I force you into a box, pray on your weaknesses, and trick you into feeling victimized so I can save the day.”

I pause and narrow my eyes. “No, actually. What? I wasn’t thinking any of that. Well except the happiness part … what did you just say?” He kisses my neck, completely disregarding me yet again. “The happiness part, Butcher, that’s what I’m talking about.”

He stops and pulls away. “Shit food makes you happy?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I’m sorry you feel that way.”

He’s sorry I feel that way? What a crock of shit.

He kisses my jaw, rubbing my crumb-filled beard against his while his fingers scour my body for the snap and zipper of my jeans. He thinks it’s all about the food. He thinks if he gets rid of my desires, it solves the problem. It solves his problem, but mine is still front and center.

He sighs in my ear and I feel my body relax despite my anger. He does things to me – powerful, disturbing, anger-inducing things. He makes me seethe … but also melt, and it frustrates me to no end.

I let him unbutton my jeans and slide his hand down my pants. I let him play with me and toy with me and have his fun.

And then I let him kiss me on the mouth and he sucks my tongue, but when he pulls on my lip, I suddenly taste it. Chocolate … and mint.

I grit my teeth as I stare up at his innocent face, and a resolve suddenly washes over me: I will kill this lying, cookie thieving son of a bitch if it’s the last thing I do.


See? Hopper’s not the only liar in this dynamic duo. 

So, where could you find 7-Elevens and Piggly Wigglys in 1972? Ohio, apparently. They’re in Ohio. That took forty-five minutes to confirm … all because I wanted the grocery store to be a Piggly Wiggly. (All my gas stations are 7-Elevens because they are universal … and also because Tonny and Frank bumble through a 7-Eleven in Pusher. Shut up.)

And with inflation *bangs hand on calculator*, Hopper just spent $146 on cookies.

Also, Thin Mints were not branded as such until 1973. WHAT THE HELL? They were called chocolate mints. So don’t blame me. Blame the Girl Scouts.

Also, this prompt was by dandelionwishes70 (Tumblr) who created a lovely bit of Unhitched fanart with Rocket and Sinman. Check it out! And thank for the prompt, dandelion_wishes, I had a blast!

chapstick [boot tread]

Part of Unhitched’s prompt collection, Boot Tread

Private prompt: 

Butch needs some chapstick. Go wild.

Tyler_Durden

1000 words

Rated: G
Joseph Dennis | Flickr

I didn’t grow up with cold winters. Maryland saw its fair share of snow storms, but it was nothing like this. This is bitter, unrelenting, and I die a little each time I step outside. These are not unfamiliar feelings for me, but the chill is new.

We’re standing at the side of the road, somewhere in western New York which is the worst place to be in late January. Butcher’s trying to recap the ass of the log pile before the damn thing fills with ice. The wind roars and snow whips around us – a blinding white sheet. My fingers are frozen to the axe handle, my toes are numb, and there is no good reason for us to be here. We could be in fucking Florida right now, but we aren’t. Someone wanted to go north.

I, also, could be helping him, but I don’t want to. I like watching him struggle, and those wood plugs are not easy to maneuver.

Butch shouts over the storm and his shoulder, “AXE!”

“Yeah?!”

He holds out his hand. “My axe, asshole!”

How was I supposed to know? I hold out the handle and he takes it, smacking the axe butt against the logs before he grabs his shit, and we both high-tail it to back to the truck cab.

The doors slam and we sit, huffing out clouds and listening to the wheezing and moaning of the white wind haunting the entire state.

Butch tears off his soaked gloves and throws them on the dash. “Could’ve used a little help out there, Princess.”

“If you’re going to keep calling me that, then don’t expect me to do grunt work, Butcher.”

He glares at me. Yeah, I’m bringing back an oldie but goodie. And he’s not going to argue about it. He likes calling me Princess way too much to make a fuss about his name.

He tosses me a brick of dried meat, and we both sit back and finally relax, chewing on whoever this used to be.

“Why don’t you ever feed Garm?” I say. She’s out running around in this shit and it kills me.

“You feed horses. You don’t feed dogs,” he growls between bites. “They feed themselves.”

“Then why do they sell dog food?”

He stops and shakes his head. “You want that beautiful creature eating that shit? No. She’s strong – stronger than you – and can take care of herself.”

He goes back to gnawing on his pemmican like a fucking animal. He suddenly hisses and when he wipes his mouth, blood smears across the back of his hand. He looks at it and touches the corner of his mouth. Yeah, that’s right. His lips are chapped and bleeding.

He glances at me because he knows exactly what I’m thinking. I’m thinking of cackling and pointing at him, and calling him a weak little shit. He can’t even eat without his face cracking open in protest.

“If I remember correctly,” I say, “you called it lipstick.”

He scoffs and leans back in his seat rubbing his eyes.

“If I remember correctly,” I continue, “it prompted my lovely little nickname.”

He stares at me now, blood gathered in the corners of his mouth. I’ve seen that before, but it’s not typically his blood.

“What I find funny, Butcher, is that you are Mr. Prim and Proper, but it’s all an illusion. You dress me up in fancy clothes and insist that I scrub my nails–“

“You’re not sticking your grimy fingers up my ass. It’s called common courtesy.”

“But you have some bizarre thing about mouths, don’t you? Why? Is it just my mouth? Is that what you find so insulting? Are you so jealous that you can’t stand watching me put on lip balm?”

“Princess, you’re delusional.”

“You’re jealous of my Chapstick, Butch. Who here is delusional?”

I laugh at him and then I open my mouth, nice a wide – no cracks forming, no blood – and take a bite of dried meat. “It’s so good, Butcher. You should have some.”

“By all means, continue,” he says, “But you’ll find out later just how much I love your pretty little mouth. I’ll treat it with the reverence it deserves and I guarantee you won’t need your lipstick anymore.”

“It’s a balm … for your lips,” I snap. “You make all sorts of crazy shit – that poultice for my face after Vegas, and the balm when I burned my hand – so what is the big damn deal?”

“There’s no deal. This is all in you’re head, you little shit. You made this all up like you always do!”

“Your lips are cracked, Butch, so what are you going to do now?” I pull the tube out of my pocket and wave it around. “You want some? It looks mighty painful.”

“I’m not sharing it with you.”

“Is it the germs? Do the germs scare you? You know all that shit you do with your mouth – sucking on my fingers, licking my cock, the kissing – same germs.”

He bites his broken lip and tries to snatch the tube from my hand, but I pull it away. “No, no, no. We aren’t the snatchy types. You can ask nicely.”

Oh, he’s pissed now. He’s chuckling, but he’s pissed. “You’re right,” he says. “May I borrow your Chapstick?”

He doesn’t like it when I order him around so I take every goddamn opportunity to do it.  “And what’s my name? I’ve forgotten already.”

“Hopper,” he sneers.

“All together now.”

“May I borrow your Chapstick, Hopper?”

He’s going to bite me later. I’ll be lucky if I keep both my ears after these shenanigans. I raise my eyebrows, still waiting.

“Hopper, may I borrow your Chapstick, please?”

I smile and nod. That was very sweet of him to say it like that. I feel respected now. “Can you borrow my Chapstick? No, Butcher. That’s fucking gross. Get your own.”