luxken27: (Kids Inc - OTP)
LuxKen27 ([personal profile] luxken27) wrote2012-01-03 09:50 pm

Kids Inc | Oneshot: For Christmas, and Forever

Title: For Christmas, and Forever
Author: [personal profile] luxken27
Fandom: Kids Incorporated
Universe: Post-canon
Genre: Angst, Romance
Rating: Y
Warning: Language, innuendo
Word Count: 5,215
Summary: When an innocent holiday decoration unexpectedly unleashes a torrent of pain, Stacy strives to remind her husband of the real meaning of Christmas. A Christmas giftfic for [livejournal.com profile] keb_01.

Links: DW | LJ | FF.net | AO3

And so, the holiday giftfics begin! I wrote enough stories in December to have something new to post about every week for a month (whew!) I'll start with the Christmas stories I wrote for my KI friends, and then move on to the [livejournal.com profile] fandom_stocking stuffers, once those are unveiled.

This is a story for [livejournal.com profile] keb_01, my partner in nerd for all things KI (and, okay, we fangirl Ryan Lambert pretty hard, too, LOL ♥ )...and it's basically something I swore I'd never write, period, much less for my childhood OTP.

That's right, I'm talking pregnancy fic.

Well, sort of.

This all began after I became acquainted with another one of those shows that I've only found and adored after its off the air - I speak of Reba, the WB/CW sitcom that ran for seven seasons and stars country music singer Reba McEntire. Yes. I was skeptical for all the same reasons you are, but when my usual morning popcorn show ended its run, I had to find something else. (I refuse to watch the news, especially when I'm snappish and cranky in the morning.) So Reba runs on Lifetime when I'm getting ready for work, and I just sorta started watching it one day. And realized that I really enjoyed it - Reba is a pretty damn good actress, alongside having that legendary set of pipes.

On the show, she has a daughter who becomes pregnant at seventeen and marries her high school boyfriend, but still lives with Reba and her siblings because, well, they're seventeen (and the boyfriend's parents disowned him for getting a girl pregnant). This is pretty much the overriding plot of the first season, as Reba is facing the end of her marriage at the same time her daughter is beginning hers. It's really a nicely done debut season, with sharp and clever characters.

The Christmas episode for that season revolves around tradition, and how the characters are scrambling to find new Christmas traditions now that life as they know it has changed forever. Van and Cheyenne (the teenage parents-to-be) are taken with the idea of creating their own Christmas traditions for their baby...and, well, I was kinda taken by that idea myself. I wanted to find a way to translate it into a story of my own creation, and I saw the episode right around the time I started nosing around for ideas for Christmas giftfics. When I mapped the idea onto KI, I immediately saw a way to potentially explore Ryan's past - something that hasn't come up during the course of Stacy in Bloom, and likely won't, since that is more of a coming-of-age story for the titular character.

But, pregnancy. Meh. I've written a pregnancy fic before (also, incidentally, as a Christmas gift), but it's not something I spend a lot of time contemplating...but it was a central theme of this story, since I wanted to contrast Ryan's dark past with his promising future, so I just ran with it. It helped that [livejournal.com profile] keb_01 quite heartily approved of the idea when I suggested it to her. Plus, I just plain like writing post-series fic with these characters, especially since I've developed a pretty rich headcanon. And, like I said, I've not done much in the way of exploring Ryan's character, at least not to the extent that I've focused on Stacy.

The idea finally coalesced when I listened to one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs - Leroy Anderson's arrangement of "Sleigh Ride." It just instantly puts me in a Christmassy mood, hehe, and it's the lead song on the holiday CD we listen to when we decorate the tree at home. I'd already made that post asking about Christmas traditions, but while I was waiting for my f-list to answer, I went searching on my own, at [livejournal.com profile] little_details. Since I was going to write two tradition-heavy stories, I figured I needed as many ideas as I could get :P and this post proved golden.

The story opens with a scene of Stacy decorating the apartment she shares with her husband, basically on impulse. He's been away with his work for a couple of weeks, and she's been out of work for nearly as long, so she's been home, alone, feeling bored and restless and uncomfortable - she's five months pregnant. I didn't choose that randomly; five months is when the "nesting" instinct supposedly kicks in, so the drive to decorate would be very strong (and based just as much on hormones as boredom). She's been married for about seven months, so they're still in that honeymoon stage ♥ and its hard to be separated from her husband, even though she's used to it, since they both have demanding careers that require a lot of travel.

So she's decorating, and thinking about how much she misses her husband...which is the perfect moment for a reunion, hehe =) This is definitely one of the best intimate moments I think I've ever captured in my writing, and its amazing how freely the words began to flow after I wrote this scene. It'd been awhile since writing KI, and I was struggling with it a little (with leftover uneasy feelings from my Yuletide story), but boy - there's nothing like a great OTP moment to really set things to rights ♥

Stacy's feeling a little sheepish about how overboard she's gone with the decorating, but Ryan's reaction is nothing like what she expects - he suddenly turns cold on her, just completely shutting down. The last straw, it appears, are the red velvet stockings she'd hung from the mantelpiece - a timeless image of Christmas, I think; its certainly a powerful one, at the very least.

He stalks away, but she finally manages to get the story out of him: “Christmas has never meant anything but disappointment to me,” he said softly, “so when I walked in and saw this place decked out, it just – argh. All of that shit just came rushing back, you know?” He shook his head. “The only people who gave a damn about me when I was a kid were Grandpa Herbie and Grandma Ruth, and after they died, it was like…I didn’t really have any family, anymore.”

Ryan's background is mostly explored in Season 2. He mentions in his very first episode that his family moved to the neighborhood because of his father's company; his grandmother, Ruth, unexpectedly moves in with the family around mid-season, and his parents give her his room without consulting him. These bare threads are what I built his past on - and for this story, they took something of a dark turn.

In the original draft, there was a scene where Stacy actually interacts with her parents-in-law, underscoring the hard truth behind Ryan's bitter feelings towards them: what they did was practical, but rather cruel to a little kid (and an only child, to boot) - they'd send him to one set of grandparents over the holidays, whichever ones were the closest, and when he went back home after the new year, he'd oftentimes find himself in a *new home*. As an adult, he can see this from his parents' perspective - how it must've been easier to pick up and move house without having a little kid constantly underfoot - but he still carries those feelings of distance and rejection.

I didn't really set out to give him such an angsty past; it all just sorta flowed out, once I managed to get him to open up :P The idea of not having holiday traditions - something almost everyone has, but takes for granted - but being around people who just assume you do has to be stressful; on the back of an unexpectedly long business trip, it'd be a breaking point. But he did have some good memories - of the grandparents actually *mentioned* in canon (which I arbitrarily decided were his father's, since I've never seen the episode with grandma Ruth) - and those are the basis of the traditions he and Stacy decide to implement for themselves.

It was fun trying to decide what those traditions would be =) The idea of the 'edible ornaments' came from here; Stacy's were a mix of traditions mentioned by my f-list. (How I came to decide that she's Catholic is a story for another time, LOL :P) Contrasting her family situation with his was poignant, I think, giving new meaning to her assurances that he *could* be a good parent.

And, of course, we have a little lemony sort of ending, bringing the whole story full circle. These two are a great source of comfort for each other, which is one of the reasons why I love their relationship dynamic so much. And since this was for [livejournal.com profile] keb_01, I knew she'd appreciate a toe-curling moment or two, hehe =)

What was interesting about writing this story, for me, was giving Ryan a background that doesn't quite fit into my headcanon, especially not for the SiB universe. As I said before, my headcanon is rich and complex, but it isn't very diverse - most of my post-series stories are basic variations on a theme, which are all variations on the sequel to SiB, so this was definitely branching out into true AU territory. It's a little cliche, but I think it works nonetheless - and gives Ryan some unexpectedly sharp edges, reminiscent of his character development during Season 2.

Most importantly, my recipient liked it =) and its not like I need much prompting to write schmoopy OTP fic ♥ I really like this story, and feel it's the stronger of the two KI gifts I wrote this year...maybe because I had to go out further on the limb than I'm used to. But, [livejournal.com profile] keb_01 always pushes me out of my comfort zone :P which makes me appreciate [livejournal.com profile] gloriafan even more, since he lets me stay in my sweet spot more often. I wrote his story on the heels of this one, so they're kinda intertwined in my mind - but that fic deserves its own notes post, hehe, as it was a very different sort of challenge.