a/n: i don't even know. i mostly wanted to use Gunther in a fic.

spread the love.

ps: before this Hook Hand got kicked out of his old tavern. for being...thug-like.

"Do you like it? We thought it'd be great to, you know, welcome you to the tavern, and all. Gunther painted it."

No, he does not like it, thank you very much. He thinks his eye is twitching as he surveys his ale mug. His ale mug. Something pink is marring its perfect (once upon a time) surface. Marring isn't a strong enough word. Gunther went to town, painted the pink sun on there, and someone had glazed it, and now his ale mug was a blasé rose color with a big sun sitting right in the middle.

"Do you know," when he speaks his voice is raspy and his eyes continue to twitch and he screws his ale grabbing hook on carefully from where it sits next to him on the bar, "how much this cost to steal?" He drapes the rounded hook through the handle and swings it around in Big Nose's face.

The man sort of smiles and pushes the wavering cup out of the way, "Well, nothing, because you stole it—"

"That's not the point!"

The point is the beautiful, old, worn mug that he knew better than himself is now gold and pink. Gold. And. Pink.

"I can't drink out of this." He settles the mug back down on the counter, ignoring the looks he is getting, mostly from Gunther, who has his pointed little nose turned up at him from his bear-chair in the corner. "If I drink out of this, I'll start pissing sunshine and rainbows."

"This," suddenly the mug is ripped out from its spot on the counter and pushed into his face until he falls off the stool and is rolling on the floor, hooking his hook into the underside of the counter to pull himself upright, "is a work of art!" Gunther leans across the bar to hang the mug on one of the antlers that stems from the bar hand's hat. Hook Hand is trying to figure out how the man made it over to him so quickly as he watches the mug rock and sway and suddenly he wants to start a brawl, a good old fashion brawl, but Gunther twirls on his heels and is gone, back to brood in the corner next to his ridiculous chair.

"We are thugs!" Hook Hand roars into the bar, which quiets down until there is nothing but a low murmur, like he is the lightning and they are the thunder, waiting to explode back out. "We should be fearsome! And not allow this!"

He points back to the sun-painted ale mug.

"Or this!"

Next item on the chopping block is the little puppet theatre that had been shakily constructed in the corner opposite Gunther's bear-chair. Fang's disappointed face peers out form behind the curtain.

"Hey, Big Nose, I made some cupcakes—"

"OR THAT!" His voice rises to a deep, bellowing shout that startles Atilla, so much so that the man steps backwards and drops his pristine, white cupcakes all over the floor of the tavern. The whole place goes quiet.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

He's thankful for that sound, it means sense has finally walked in. "Vladamir. Good. Tell these guys how stupid they look—we're thugs, not ballerinas—I mean, this tavern is called The Black Dragon, not the Cuddly Bear—"

He turns as he talks and Vladimir, catching his murderous look, has the decency to appear somewhat ashamed as Hook Hand spies the ceramic unicorns he has clutched in his hand.

"Big Nose gave them to me," he rumbles by way of an answer. "How could I say no?"

Hook Hand has had enough, and he stands, swinging out his hook until it gets caught in the wood of the bar. It drags across, leaving a gash, and he whispers, "My mug."

The bar man throws down his new decoration with precision and speedily walks away. Hook Hand grips the cup in his hand and marches determinedly out the door, avoiding the looks as he swings out into the sunshine.

He's off to find a new frequent, maybe one with a better name or better crowd, or something like that, though how he'll explain the mug to this new crowd is a whole other mystery that he doesn't know how he'll solve. He only started coming to this place because he got kicked out of his old pub for brawling.

He loves brawling. Almost as much as he loves playing the pi—

That damn place had made him soft! He never thought about stuff like that before! But if Fang can have puppet shows and Atilla can bake and Big Nose can drone on and on about love-no. He huffs down the path without a backward glance.

He's fairly ashamed to find himself back at the door to The Black Dragon. Fairly ashamed, indeed. But his need for ale/drink/bar fights/manly things is beating out his pride at the moment. No other place in all of Corona would take him in.

Well, truthfully, there aren't that many pubs in the capital itself, and he's been kicked out of all of them. The only one left is this one. And he's fairly certain that everyone in here hates him.

Oh well. As long as they keep the mead flowing, he's happy.

He throws open the door, pink mug in hand, and finds himself face to face with silence. He coughs awkwardly into his hook, fiddles with his stick mustache, and stomps into the bar, swinging down his once-perfect cup on the counter and glaring at the bar hand who quickly fills his glass.

"What are you lookin' at?" he snaps behind him and the talking picks back up. He's looking around the bar. It's been two days and Gunther's really gone to town. There's a new picture on the wall, a little puppy with big sad eyes in a gilt-golden frame, and a wooden puppet hanging limply from one of the support beams. A crude stage has been constructed at the far end of the bar and he eyes it oddly. Why on earth would they need a stage?

And what's that on it? A big, brown, something, something that looks very stolen and very out of place. He's eyes are taking in the outline when Big Nose slides next to him.

"Do you like it?" he seems generally excited. "We made that stage, and Bruiser and Fang and Vladimir went and stole the piano. We thought maybe a little music would make us more thug-like."

"Music? Thug-like? Please." Hook Hand, drink forgotten, stumbles over to the piano. He hasn't seen one in so long, ages really, and its like heaven on earth when his hook pounds out the first few notes of some old song he used to play over, and over, when he was little and had both his hands to mess around with.

"Gunther was right, he said you had piano playing hands." Big Nose is scratching at something on his elbow. "Vladamir was right too—he said you be back, you know, after you left. Said only real thugs come out into this back water, and once you do you can never go back to all those capital pubs."

"Wha—what? That's—that's absurd—" he is ignoring the part about basically being called a softie/outcast/unmanly and is looking into the designer's corner, because no one—and he means no one—has ever guessed about his piano dreams, except maybe his Ma, but she's long gone, bless her soul. He spies the familiar upturned nose. He edges quickly away from the instrument, missing the sound of ivories beneath his hand, and starts to step off the stage. He nearly backs into some minstrel that wasn't there last time, either. The prisoner shakes his accordion out a few notes but does no more, just folds into himself.

"We stole him, too," Big Nose sounds proud.

One song wouldn't hurt him. One song—no. Hook Hand races back to the bar, gulping down some ale and shaking his head. Soft. Soft is bad, he's a thug, he has a reputation to uphold, after all.

He last three days before he can't last any longer and he's pounding on the keys every minute to some song he's making up on the fly and he feels truly happy for the first time, uh, ever, and suddenly Gunther's bear chair looks gorgeous, and Atilla's cupcakes taste simply sublime, and its not hard to support Big Nose in his quest for love because, hey, he's playing the piano again.

Reputation be damned. Hell, the mug is even starting to look beaut—well, scratch that, it ain't looking beautiful and it never will. So he isn't too sad when it 'falls' from the counter and shatters into a million pieces.

Maybe he'll take a fancy goblet or something jewel encrusted next time.

"We all have dreams," Big Nose says one day, in one of his rare, sobering moments in which wisdom spews from his mouth like rain from a cloud, drenching all in sight, "and here we can show them. That's good, right? We need dreams."

Blah, blah, blah, he's just happy to be playing again. And the best part is he can play and still be a thug. Because when he goes to steal a new ale mug no one knows that he takes it back to a tavern where he plays Mozart-like concertos for a group of sobbing older men who think it's the most beautiful thing they have ever heard in the world.

One day, a little drunker than normal, he says, "We should change the name of this place," only it comes out, "We shoold shanje the naam of thish playsh."

Gunther looks up from where he is trying to paint patterns on Fang's puppet theater and sniffs, "I have been zaying 'zat for ages," trying on his new accent that he picked up from some foreign traveler in an attempt to sound well-learned but it just leaves him sounding like he has a lisp. He's always trying for the high-culture, and never seems to make it there.

Big Nose is frowning, leaning over a few barrels and sipping his ale with a forlorn look on his face. "To what?"

"Something more thug-like?" Vladamir asks.

"More menacing?" Bruiser looks up from his scarf.

"More evil?" Killer growls.

"More deadly?" Fang wonders.

"No, more, more, more," because he's drunk its slurred and he repeats like a broken record before finally getting out, "more dream-like."

"Dream-like?" The entire place seems to ask, and starts to burst, and its like Hook Hand is the lightning before the thunder.

"Yesh." He slams down his mug (newly stolen, thank you very much) which is the universal thug sign for 'more ale' and continues, "More dream-like."

"The Prancing Pony, then!" One man shouts from the back of the room and this strikes Hook Hand as offensive.

"I HATE PONIES!" he roars, and Rat Boy or Goat Boy, he can't really tell, edges downward in their seat.

"The…Mewling Kitten?"

"The Knowledgeable Scholar?"

"The Happy Bird?"

"Birds, I like birds." Hook Hand is nodding his head. "Especially ducklings. They have cute little feathers."

When he is less drunk and more sober he will reflect on this conversation and slap himself in the face.

"Ducklings are good." The little guy with the beard, wearing nothing but a diaper, comes up and speaks with a burp. His nose is red. He is a perpetual drunkard and in that moment Hook Hand admires him for it. "Snuggly ducklin's—" burp "—are even better—" he stumbles into the bottom of one of the bar stools, falls backwards, and just sort of lies there. It takes a moment for Hook Hand to realize he's sleeping.

"The…Snuggly…Duckling?" Big Nose says it slowly. "I like it. It's catchy."

And then the thunder comes, like it was supposed to ages ago, and the bar is erupting, because for some reason they all really like this new name, and Hook Hand is momentarily happy and smiles for the first time in ages.

But seriously, when he is less drunk and more sober this conversation will come back to haunt him.