John has a different relationship with the machines than Sarah does. That's at the heart of T2. Also, I've always loved how it's Sarah who is the greatest threat to Skynet's existance. John has always fought defensively. He doesn't try and change the past. He tries to preserve it. Sarah from the day she met Kyle, has tried to change the future--not safeguard it. She's the one who takes the fight to them, and tries to prevent Skynet from ever being born, the same way Skynet tries to prevent John from being born. So I was interested in trying to sort out what makes son different from mother. And how the body count weighs on him.
My yuletide assignment was aris_writing, who had matched on both Dark City and Ultraviolet. I started a two stories, unsure of which I would finally go with, and was telling yahtzee63 about my plans for the Dark City one when she suggested that perhaps Emma killing herself and John going mad was not actually a suitable gift for someone for whom that canon is their best beloved. So I kept that aside, planning to turn it into a treat (this was before I spent 16 hours in airports on Christmas Eve), and wrote Respice, Adspice, Prospice instead. And I am SO GLAD I DID. For one thing, it gave me an excuse to re-watch Ultraviolet, which I hand't in at least three years. For another, I watched Frances scenes over and over, and went from loving her to genuinely adoring her. I think she may end up my favourite character. To use the Smallville example (otherwise known as the "Some Kind of Wonderful" model) Kirsty's the Lana, but Frances is so definitely the Chloe. And I love the fact that, while she tries to be the ice-queen and untouchable in front of Mike, as gone as he is on Kirsty, she's clearly just as mad about him. And while Mike almost destroys himself to save Kirsty, Frances puts everything on the line for him. Kirsty never does fully understand until it's too late, how much Mike loved her. By then, he's let her go. I sort of love the parallel with Mike and Frances. That he might lose her the same way, if he's not careful. Also, I love that Frances is brought by Vaughn and Angie to Pearse, and sees for herself, because Mike would never have done that. He needs her to be safe. And I sort of love that on-screen, we never know if Mike even knows that Frances now knows. We only ever see him with kirsty. The last time we see Frances, it's when Pearse kills Hoyle. The last time Mike saw Frances, she had just thrown him out adn refused to help him save Kirsty.
I'd had that first bit of dialogue sitting on my harddrive since 2006. I ended up cutting half of it for pacing, that I'm including the original here just for lolz:
Harman simply inclines his head. "We need people like you, Ms Pembroke."
"People like me?"
"Investigators. That's why Michael's here. You found Hoyle. That was something we couldn't manage on our own."
"It's not generally something Mike can manage on his own."
"I know. We've been monitoring his phone records."
"We knew they'd try to get to him through Kirsty Maine. It wasn't entirely outside the realm of possibility that, had that failed, you would have been next on their list."
Part of her reads his statement of fact as an implied threat out of habit. The other part makes the hairs stand up on the back of her neck. She clamps down hard on the stirrings of fear before it can get too strong a hold on her. In the end, curiosity wins out above both cynicism and terror.
"What would have happened if they had? Brought me over to their side, or whatever they call it. Would I have been considered collateral damage?"
"To us? Certainly. But not to Michael."
She didn't know what to say to that.
"To be perfectly frank, I'd prefer you were on our side for your own sake, as much as his. You know as well as anyone--there's no such thing as half-way. You're either all in, or..."
"Or you make me disappear?"
"Nothing so crude. But we will ask you to sever all connections with our organisation."
"You mean with Mike," she says, but Harman's expression didn't change. Frances taps her fingers against the tabletop. "You know, I'm the one who told Mike to turn you down."
"Yes. As a matter of fact, I do. I also know that you possess invaluable skills and contacts that would greatly benefit our organisation, should you choose to accept our offer."
She's amused that he still refers to it as a choice. As if there is any other answer she can give.
"If I fall off the grid, someone will notice. I make a larger hole, you see. A simple copper goes missing, well… That's one thing."
"You'd simply be transferred here, to the CDF."
"The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."
She laughs, and it's a hollow sound. "You're Catholic?"
"Is that a problem?"
"Does her Majesty know?"
"Oh yes." Harman's smile is warm and genuine, without tinge of mockery. "She signs our cheques."
Carpe Diem happened because I jumped on the pinch hit and then realised that the story my recipient had asked for I, erm, had kinda sorta already written last year, in The Servants' Ball. And I didn't want to recycle, I wanted to give my recipient something new. Also, I am a freak who always wants stories I wrote in the same fandom to have continuity with each other. And I am aware this makes me a freak. but I want people to read them and feel as if they're not getting the same story each time, but a new chapter in a larger one.
So I decided to focus on that moment where everything is in flux, when Mary meets his eyes after the kiss, and examine how each of them perceive that moment, and then move backward and show how they arrived at that moment, and why they did what they did, and why they might act differently, when they met in the future.
Also, I haven't written Robert's POV before. I've written One story from Ivor's POV, and one from Mary's, both set post-movie, but never Parks. He was always only ever seen through other people's eyes. I had an idea in my head, when I wrote And Seas May Lie Between and Servants' Ball, that Robert would stay in service after William's death for two reasons. First, pragmatism. He's never worked anywhere else, and knows that world, and the servant shortages means he'll never not have work, even during the Great Depression. But more importantly, so long as he stays in service, he may/will see Mary again. I alluded to his learning the truth about his parentage in Seas, but never really delved with detail into his relationship with his mother's memory in Ball. I still believe that he would feel betrayed, learning his mother was still alive. Because he'd spent his entire adult life working toward avenging her, and also getting revenge on William for his growing up in an orphanage/workhouse unwanted and unloved. It's integral to his sense of self. The truth would have destroyed his fantasy of his mother's tragic death, and that would possibly break him. I decided, when I wrote The Servants' Ball, to go the other way. To have him learn about his mother's love by Mary revealing that Mrs Wilson had loved him enough to kill for him, and at last Robert knew the pure and fierce love of a parent.
But I wanted to show how he created that fantasy that he then uses to justify his actions, as a kind of armour against his circumstances, to give him purpose and elevate that purpose. Also, I liked the idea of playing with Mary's question of whether he would have wanted her if she had kissed him back (based on their exchange in the billiard room just before killing William, where he expresses genuine disgust and disbelief that Elsie would willingly sleep with William). If she had been less innocent, would he have still been attracted to her? And would he feel like he had betrayed Mary by taking what he wanted, just as he assumed William had with Jane Parks. In his mind, it had to have been William taking advantage. The idea of Jane going to William willingly would have been one he would have rejected completely, I think. He needs that fantasy. It's all he has to hold onto.
One thing I noticed, as I rewatched the film for the MILLIONTH time, was Mrs Wilson and Parks, in the hallway, while Mrs Croft is telling Bertha and the other kitchenmaids about Sir William's factories full of girls.
You can almost hear their conversation, behind Mrs Croft's dialogue. It's something about the dog, which Robert has been carrying around with him all morning (he's feeding it outside, when he overhears Bertha gossiping with the other maid about how Sir William was poisoned, and he realises he didn't kill his father). But the look on Mrs Wilson's face, as Robert walks away. OMG. SHE NEEDS HUGS.
Also, how much do I love that both times Mary comes to his room, Robert says "What are you doing here?" but the context and line readings are totally different. And then Robert unconsciously echoes Denton's line. Beautiful, beautiful callback. So I made a point of referencing that, in Robert's memories. That whole scene, when he finds Mary in their room the first time, is about control. Robert is trading Mary at that point for revenge. But by the end of the film, I think he's made a reversal. I think he's finally able to let go of his father, and look to the future. Mary represents that future.
(Another thing I love is that, when mary first voices her suspicions to Robert, he is in the act of stubbing out his cigarette in the same fire bucket where he hid the silver carving knife, next to the stairs George later tells Jeremy Blond are the quickest way to get upstairs. I swear, every time I watch this, I find new things.)
Most of the research was done using Life Below Stairs in the 20th Century by Pamela Horn and Rose Harrison's memoir of her career as Lady Astor's lady's maid. The story about the footman nearly maiming the guest at a party who referred to a kitchenmaid as a slut and a skivvy came from that book. It was a story told to her by the Astor's butler, and I could see Robert as that footman so clearly. I left off the part where Lady Astor banned the politician from any further social gatherings, tho. But the horrified reactions of both the butler, Mr Lee, and Lady Astor was true, and I loved that. There's this idea (usually in fiction) that the upper classes treated the servants horribly, but that wasn't always the case. In some cases, there was great respect, loyalty and even affection between them.
Best Laid Plans was another pinch hit. I'd wanted to tell this story a few years back, because a huge chunk of the still-unfinished Painted Blind is about Stormer and Roxy, and Roxy's jealousy of Stormer's relationship with Kimber Benton, and how Stormer being with Kimber throws Roxy and Jetta in closer proximity than ever before. I actually ended up cutting chunks of the finished story, since it was recycling parts of PB (mostly how Stormer felt about Clash), and I wanted to keep it on-track. But I love the idea that the whole reason Eric uses Stormer to get at Starlight as being Roxy's fault, and she feels guilty. Also, it's what sets Eric's behaviour toward Stormer apart from the way he handles Roxy's rebellion, later in the series.
My biggest tell in Jemfic will forever remain Eric's secretary being named "Rochelle", tho I've noticed it cropping up in new stories on FFN. That amuses me.
WIPs continue to be Painted Blind, and an Angela/Hodgins 5 Things story. *sigh*
One of these days...