AKA: How do you solve a problem like Mary Watson?
I cringe in anticipation of every Mary. Because let’s be honest: Holmes/Watson is the OTP; Mary is an interloper. (Sherlock rocks my fucking world. The Sherlock Mary is freaking amazeballs. I’d ship her with any character on that show. Not Lestrade. But any other character. Well, okay, not Mycroft, either, though I’d hella ship her with his assistant, whose name escapes me. Mmm. Yummy.)
Where was I? I’ll try to wipe the smut from my brow and continue.
Truman is my Mary Watson. Let me restate, for the record, that in no universe (in my brain) were Will and Hugh ever going to get married (to each other) and live happily ever after. No more than Holmes and Watson would. But do they share something deep, and profound, and transcendent? Fuck yeah. And if I did my job right, by the end of The Scientific Method, most readers think so, too.
So. Enter The Interloper.
Obviously he must be a man who is not jealous of Will. He must be a patient man, because Hugh is not easy to get to know, and he must be a persistent man, because Hugh doesn’t believe in happily ever after (not for himself, and maybe not for anyone).
Okay. Well. Those are basic. But who is this guy?
The story of how Hugh and Truman met trickles through the series. Now’s a good time to mention here there be spoilers. By the time I rewrote Hugh’s New Dude, before publishing it in 2014, I’d already written the first draft of what would eventually become The Boyfriends Tie the Knot. So I knew that Truman’s the kind of guy who watches an intriguing man from across the room at a conference, notes the way he dismisses flirtation from others, finds it amusing that he’s scribbling in his binder the entire time, and by lunch has a plan all ready for activation in order to grab the seat next to him.
First draft Truman was all right. But he didn’t have as much spark, or as much depth, as the Truman Jennings we know and love. Because when I first wrote him, I didn’t know the real story of how they met. I, like Hugh, had to discover it as time passed. A lot of time. Almost five years of time. (By the time Truman fesses up, Hugh sees the entire situation through the lens of intimacy and humor, but if he’d known in the first six months, he would have dropped Truman like the proverbial bad habit. Isn’t it fun when characters develop throughout a series? Um. Yeah. Well, obviously I think it’s fun.)
In the first half of HND, we get Hugh’s version of their courtship. In the second, we get Truman’s. Which is important, because seeing Will (and Hugh-and-Will) through Truman’s eyes makes a lot clear. Also, I got to use the line “Dating Hugh Reynolds was like walking a tightrope over a shark tank: exhilarating as hell, but also, any given second may find you plummeting through the air, about to be devoured.”
Also, it’s the part where Will says, “You’re kind of a kinky bastard for a vanilla dude, Truman,” which is another favorite of mine. Because of course those of us who–ahem–see Will and Hugh as the one true pairing of this universe, need to see a little something from Will here, too.
This story needed to establish three things very clearly: Hugh is in love with someone who isn’t Will; the new relationship will in no way result in the exclusion of Will; and the new guy can hold his own, both in intensity, and intimacy. I also needed to not duplicate the same dynamic, so Truman shows up a little bit older than Hugh, a lot vanilla, and entirely settled into his life. He’s not searching for anything, really. He’s got a job he loves, and an apartment, and a best friend in Boston, thus allowing him to in many ways be what Will at 21, 22, could not be to Hugh: a partner.
(We’ll end there, but let me tease you with this: the first draft of this series still holds true in many, many ways. But there is one interesting thing that’s just beginning to creep in, which I’ve only had hints of before, and it’s fascinating. You’ll see a little taste of it next week, in one of the New Born Year missing scenes. Man. I love being surprised by characters.)