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06/31 Snippet

It's the busiest time of year for me at work, but hey, I wrote most of Restraint during the same season, so I guess I can give this write-every-day challenge a try. Apparently, to prime the pump, it's permissible to raid old notebooks for previous writings.

So here's a section from an old J2 fic I never finished. It's set during filming of SPN Season Two. I find that the original character still interests me.



When the server has come back with more coffee and taken away their dishes, Dee brushes some crumbs off the white butcher paper in front of her. "Okay. I've figured out why you're so angry with Jared. Wanna hear it?"

"Wait, what?" Jensen is wary. "A, he's the one that's angry at me, and I'm just..." He comes to a dead end. "And B--well, there is no B." He sighs. "Yeah. Okay. Go for it. Hit me."

Dee draws some lines with a black crayon on the white paper. "He's in love with you."

She says it gently, quietly, and with such matter of fact conviction that it pierces him right under the breastbone. A killing blow. It drains the air out of his lungs, the beat out of his heart, and all the words out of his mind.

He stares at her, realizes he's shaking his head, and stops. "He's not--he just thinks..."

"Oh, sweetheart." Dee puts a hand out across the table. Halts just short of touching him, and he still can't breathe. "It was patently obvious when I first met him--the way he talked about you. And you--well, clearly, you feel pretty strongly about him."

Jensen can't really deny it--wouldn't want to--and doesn't try. He's just having a hard time getting past the "in love with" part. It's so...true, he thinks. It's so fucking obvious. How could I have pretended not to know? I've known all along.

"You were the only man in his life, and as long as he was still playing with girls, that position was safe. Now it's not. That's got to be very threatening--in so many ways. To so many aspects of who you are."

Jensen swallows and stares at her, fighting. He grabs a crayon for himself--a blue one--and starts drawing circles on the white paper. He knows his face is burning.

"Okay," Dee says. "I don't do this very often, but I'm going to tell you my story. I think it could help."

Jensen feels like he's about ten years old again, cornered into a facts-of-life discussion with one of his parents. The blue circles are the most interesting thing in the world--maybe the only thing. He shrugs. Doesn't look up. "Okay," he manages to say without sounding too hoarse.

"When I was about Jared's age, I was a fashion model. This was in the late sixties. I was living in New York. Twenty two years old and already five years in the business. A couple of Vogue covers, shoots and shows all over the world. Paris at my feet! December Delancey's fifteen minutes." Dee's voice is ironic and not the least bit impressed.

"I had the biggest fashion designers in the world begging me to strut down the runway in their most bizarre outfits. Perfect coathanger of a body--that was me. Drugs and booze backstage, psychedelic music pounding away out front, and everyone congratulating themselves on being very hip."

Jensen is grateful to have something to turn his mind to besides the gaping hole in his chest. He can picture it: hot skinny girls back in the days before boob jobs, snaking down the runway to, like, maybe Jimi Hendrix or The Doors, lines of white powder on mirrors, weird bright colors...

He blinks, rewinds, risks a glance a Dee. "Wait--your real name is December?"

"It really is."

Jensen feels himself relaxing, getting over it, coming back into himself. "So...your birthday must be in May."

Dee laughs. "Yeah, that's it. Anyway, crazy times, right? I stayed mostly away from the bad stuff--I was just a nice girl from Saskatoon, after all, just a body type. But the girls in the business were all pretty wild, and the men were all pretty gay, and when the rock stars and Hollywood types came around, you can guess how seductive it was. I had more money and men than any twenty-two-year-old girl should ever have."

Jensen looks at her. In the dim light here at the back of the cafe, it's easy to mask out the lines in her face, imagine her hair darker, her eyes brighter, and her amazing cheekbones even sharper than they still are. "You must have been incredible."

She breathes out a small laugh and shakes her head ruefully. "Oh, I was."

"I mean...not that you aren't still..."

She waves this off with a little eyeroll, and Jensen feels stupid for saying it. He's never met a woman who has less need of compliments from someone like him.

"Linda was my best friend in the business. We were almost identical in shape and size, but she was fair, and I was dark, so we got sent out together on a lot of shoots as a sort of winter-and-summer pairing. We roomed together, flew around the world together, compared notes on rock stars..."

Dee is remembering now. Her eyes are filled with humor and affection and surprise, as if she still can't believe, after all these years, that the life she's describing was her own.

"Linda was beautiful--well, we all were, frankly, but she! She had masses of curly, strawberry blond hair, and the most gorgeous pale skin, with freckles across her nose. Eyes the color of the sky. A mermaid-girl--she did a series of ads for cultured pearls and they were fabulous. Men worshiped her and she didn't care. She was affectionate and demonstrative and very physical with me, and I had no idea it meant anything. She was from a huge Irish Catholic family in New Jersey and I thought that must just be their way."

Jensen is leaning back in his chair, rapt.

"I didn't know anything. I'd barely ever heard the word 'lesbian,' and if I'd had any clear idea of what it meant, I'd have said I wasn't like that. I had boyfriends! Affairs with wealthy men. Well, one day, Linda told me she was in love with me. It frightened me to death. I pretended it didn't. I told myself it didn't matter..." Dee glances at Jensen. "Dumb, eh? Telling yourself that love doesn't matter? God, what an idiot I was."

She takes a deep breath and lets it out in a sigh. "I could walk half naked down a runway in Paris in front of hundreds of the most judgmental people in the world, but one girl's love scared me."

"What happened?" Jensen asks. It comes out as almost a whisper. He realizes that he's holding his coffee mug to his chest with both hands, and sets it back on the table.

"She finally grabbed me once, backstage after a Halston show, and kissed the living daylights out of me."

"Yeah?" Jensen raises his eyebrows hopefully.

"I was so shocked by it that I just...kind of freaked out. Ran. It seems ridiculous now, but I was young and it was a different time."

"So...this isn't gonna be a story about hot girl-on-girl action, huh?"

Dee laughs. "I'm afraid not. And that is one of the very few regrets in my life. I didn't realize until later on that sexuality--mine, anyway--isn't as black and white as I wanted to believe."

It's strangely not that weird, hearing a woman older than his mom talk this way. Dee is so completely herself, so clearly defined as a character, that everything she says seems perfectly natural.

"It took me years to come to an understanding of myself and what I wanted, and all that time, I carried that kiss around with me like a secret key. It opened all kinds of doors in me, liberated me in ways that the rock stars and the money and the bright lights never could. That kiss let me finally love women, years later."

"Whatever happened to Linda?"

"She died. Too soon. That business is even crueler than the one you're in. We were already too old for it at twenty-four. Twenty-five, tops. I went on to art school, and lost track of her completely. When the internet came along, twenty years later, I started trying to find her. Every couple of years, I'd do a search. Finally, one day about four or five years ago, I came across an old obituary in the archives of the newspaper from her hometown. It was a drug overdose. She was only thirty-nine. I never knew."

Jensen watches Dee's face. There's a sort of distant, soft sorrow in her eyes. "That's a sad story, Dee," he offers, sure that it's lame, but it's all he's got. "I'm sorry."

"Yes it is. The Linda I knew lived fast, died pretty young and probably left quite a good-looking corpse. The sad part is that I never knew how much I counted on her still being in the world until I found out that she wasn't."

Jensen thinks about Jared, almost against his will. Tries to imagine a world without him in it, and just can't.

"Take it from an old woman, Jensen," Dee says. "There's nothing in life quite as painful as regret over the things you didn't do."



I think I'd like to re-use Dee in a new story. (Dee is based on the late Barbara Sheidler Bartholomew, if you want a little visual.)

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
helenajust
Oct. 7th, 2013 07:26 am (UTC)
Wow! That's really good. I do hope that one of the things you're gong to do when you retire is write more? (and post the results, of course).
emeraldsedai
Oct. 9th, 2013 03:06 am (UTC)
Thank you. Oh how I do hope that writing will be mine again once I have some time to unwind! Nothing in this world has ever given me so much satisfaction.

And of course, if do manage to pull another novel together, you can bet that I'll post it (if fic) or about it (if original) all over the damn place.
ravurian
Oct. 7th, 2013 01:51 pm (UTC)
I've no idea why this even needs to be J2, tbh. It works quite as well if you don't know who Jensen is. It seems to me that you've been writing original fic for a while, nervously assuming that it would only find an audience if it was explicitly fannish. And that's fine, don't get me wrong, acknowledging your inspiration is absolutely fine, but it doesn't need to remain that way. It's not as if you're writing canon SPN fic, is it? You're just casting your characters as people you like the look of, and with whom you are familiar, and borrowing their names; the stories themselves - both here and in restraint - have very little do with the actors, or their lives. It's interesting.

(Also, raiding notebooks is totes legit).
emeraldsedai
Oct. 9th, 2013 03:19 am (UTC)
Totes legit. Noted.

I'm glad I put this here and I'm really glad to read your comment because (as I say probably at least twice a week) you make me think of things that my mind doesn't readily generate on its own.

In this case, I remembered the scene (where I'd forgotten a lot of the rest of the unfinished story) because it was original. Dee Delancey is one of my best original characters; I have a fairly high degree of confidence in my ability to create original characters.

It's just...I don't know. When I think about wholly original fiction I lose confidence, not because I don't believe it will find an audience, but because I fear it will find a critical one. Fandom is plenty critical, god knows, but generally fans are enthusiastic and forgiving when they already love the characters.

Much food for thought. Lots going on in my head the last couple of days WRT writing.
karen_jk
Oct. 9th, 2013 03:41 am (UTC)
I am very on board with the original fic plan! It means fewer readers to start with but it also means taking your talent and seeing where it will lead you.
emeraldsedai
Oct. 9th, 2013 06:22 am (UTC)
I have to say--and I'm not exaggerating or putting you on--I have thought of you and your stalwart support for Restraint a great deal over the past year or so as I try to work up the nerve to make it publishable.

Thank you. You've made a real difference, and it means a lot to me.
layne67
Oct. 9th, 2013 02:57 am (UTC)
This is wonderful. And thanks for making it a J2. I love that pairing and it gives the story the extra "zing", knowing without being told how Jared is, the parallels between him and Linda, Jensen and Dee. Lovely!
emeraldsedai
Oct. 9th, 2013 03:20 am (UTC)
:D

I still love J2 as a pairing myself, and it was fun to go back in time to those early seasons when they actually did live together and fandom exploded.

Thanks for reading and commenting (and for your fantastic icon!).
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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