luxken27: (BSC - Santa hat)
LuxKen27 ([personal profile] luxken27) wrote2012-01-02 10:49 am

Baby-sitters Club | Oneshot: Chance Encounter (Yuletide)

Title: Chance Encounter
Fandom: Baby-sitters Club
Universe: Post-canon
Genre: Friendship, Romance
Rating: T
Warning: Language
Word Count: 5,317
Summary: When Charlie Thomas escapes the chaos of his family on New Year’s Eve, restlessness drives him in search of old friends – but the one he finds is the last one he ever expected to see.

Links: | LJ | DW | AO3

This was my [ profile] yuletide assignment this year, written for [ profile] tornyourdress.

This was my first time participating in Yuletide, and I was something of a last-minute signup, after waffling over whether or not to do it (for the second year in a row). When I looked over the signups and found fandoms that I could actually write for (and *characters* I could write for), I bit the bullet and basically hoped for the best, LOL. Luckily, I was matched on a strong fandom, and with someone whose fic I'd read and enjoyed (and even recced!). The only problem?

She didn't exactly give me much to go on - there was no letter this year, and for this fandom, she basically said, "Give me anything!" Which, you know, is awesome, but also a bit harrowing o.O I was already feeling a little bad because I hadn't matched with my recipient's "top" fandoms (where she listed characters and scenarios she might like in the prompt), but a bit of looking around at her LJ did give me some reassurance - she had some of her past Yule letters up, and it really did look like she'd like just about anything I could write for her.

Yay! Now I just needed an idea, LOL.

Luckily, around the time that we received assignments, there was a BSC character meme circulating around LJ, where we were given characters and basically asked to outline post-series scenarios for them. Said meme gave me a bunch of baby plot bunnies, and I'd actually just filled out one for Charlie Thomas that I was especially taken with:

Charlie graduates from high school, and takes a baseball scholarship to the University of Hawaii. This decision is two parts deliberate and one part happenstance - for all his struggles about picking a school, the one thing he knows is that he wants to get away and be by himself for a change. So basically, he goes as far away from his blended family (and his father) as he can get. Hawaii wasn't his top choice, but it otherwise fits the bill, including scholarship.

While in Hawaii, he is able to act like a teenager for the first time, and it's a very freeing experience. He makes lots of friends, goes to lots of parties, has lots of relationships. But, as happy as he is with his social life, he finds himself adrift academically, unsure of what he wants to do. When he comes home for the holidays during his sophomore year, he finds himself spending a lot of time with Janine, who is incredibly career-oriented. She helps him figure out what it is that he (1) likes, and (2) is good at, and he finally decides he wants to go into social work, and help other families going through circumstances similar to his own, before his mother married Watson. He returns to Hawaii, completes his undergraduate degree in psychology, and immediately starts grad school. A family emergency brings him home indefinitely, so he transfers his studies to UConn. He graduates with an MSW and begins working towards his license, taking an unrelenting caseload under supervision at DHR. He thrives in the environment, though, using his own experiences growing up as well as what he learned in undergrad/grad school to reach out to those underserved.

After getting his license, he moves to MA (which has a better social system) and settles into a similar public-sector job. At 32, he's finally settled into a life plan and is reasonably happy with it; the only thing missing is a wife. He's a little jealous of his younger brother in this regard, and once again turns to one of his oldest and dearest friends for help. Janine is similarly busy in her work as an astrophysicist, but for Charlie, she'd do anything... :)

And since I don't need much in the way of prompting to write for a Thomas brother, I thought I'd take this idea and see where it took me - most specifically, the part where Janine helps Charlie choose a major at the last minute.

I was mulling over this idea when I happened upon the December 5th [ profile] fandomsecrets post, and in particular, this secret. Looking down in the comments gave me a bit more context ~ that's Werner Heisenberg, and he had an associated principle in physics: the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Physics? Hmm...

The more I read about it, the more it seemed like the *perfect* summary for the story I had in mind - that the closer Janine gets to Charlie, the less certain she is of her feelings for him.

By this time, I'd narrowed down my scenario to the second scene, which was originally going to be the entirety of the story, written from Janine's POV. A bit of Wikipedia trawling from Heisenberg brought me to the Anna Karenina principle, which is equally interesting - "in statistics, the term is used to describe significance tests: there are any number of ways in which a dataset may violate the null hypothesis and only one in which all the assumptions are satisfied."

And since Anna Karenina is not your average, everyday run-of-the-mill piece of fiction, I felt comfortable having Janine reading it. Around this same time I was compiling the Complete Guide to Janine Kishi, and one of the things that stood out to me was the idea that she didn't read fiction for pleasure, but that she was somehow enough of a nerd to find nonfiction pleasurable and fascinating. So I was basically congratulating myself for figuring out a reason *why* she'd be reading the novel (and writing some great, flirtatious conversation around it), only to realize that RS #66 states outright that Janine had already read the novel.

So there went draft #1, LOL.

Drafts #2 and #3 were still from Janine's POV, which I was finding troubling. I've written stupidly smart characters before (hello, most of my time in IY fandom was spent inside Sesshoumaru's head), but it's very difficult to keep up that level of vocabulary/intellect, and at the same time, write believable social naivety. So after much angsting, I decided to try my hand at writing this from Charlie's POV instead. Which meant delving into his motivation for being away from his family on New Year's Eve.

As much as I just love writing Thomas brothers fic, I don't feel quite the same level of passion/fascination with the Thomas-Brewer zoo, but I knew I was going to have to demonstrate what would make Charlie want to escape his house. Since I decided to set this after Christmas (as the other Christmas giftfics I was writing were set *at* Christmas, and there's only so many Christmas stories to write, LOL), that meant I could write what amounted to a "fallout" scene, looking at the aftermath of a major holiday.

David Michael's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles obsession came from one of my favorite sites of all time. I'm especially in love with X-E right now because of how much I'm reveling in nostalgia. I like sort of "old school" BSC, so I knew I wanted to set the story around that same time period, sort of late 80s/early 90s, which was the time when TMNT was a hot property, thanks to the Saturday morning cartoon series.

A re-read of my favorite Super Special (#7 Snowbound) filled in the rest of the gaps for the first scene. I tried to pull in those pieces of canon that are so evocative of the BSC - Kristy's great idea; her suggestion to call her friends to help organize a party (and just assuming they'll all be available and interested and willing to come over early to help); Karen's need to be the center of attention no matter what; Andrew's calm silence. And since this is me we're talking about :P I had to drop a little hint about my favorite canon ship, if only because I think Kristy's reaction to her brother dating one of her friends is hilarious, LOL.

We learn about Watson's cars in RS #81, including the frequency with which he drives them. It's been awhile since I read that book, but I do seem to remember the tussle over being about to drive his mid-life crisis red sports car; if anyone wanted to borrow a car, they were stuck with his fuddy-duddy Oldsmobile. (Plus, for whatever reason, Charlie chose to drive the Olds in RS #107 when he was trying to impress Angelica...which I also found hilarious, LOL.) I don't think the Junk Bucket would last much longer than high school, hence Charlie's need for someone else's ride in order to escape the house (and the neighborhood).

My ploy to get him to Bradford Court was pretty simple - he wanted to visit his BFFs from childhood, Ricky and Randy Jones. There are lots of great references to these two in the early canon books, as well as Kristy's Book. But, I remember what it was like to go off to college far away from home, and how that affected friendships from childhood. I don't think there's a harder adjustment to make than figuring out where all of your friends fit into your new, expanded life, especially when you don't see them as often as you did before. And, if you're going to school 3,000 miles away, it's hard to keep up the level of intimacy with people you're used to seeing everyday.

RS #107 was a great book to delve into Charlie's character a little deeper, and I think it was a good example of just how out of place he really feels, even though he keeps it together pretty well. I can only imagine, you know? Leaving the house you grew up in, moving across town for the last year of high school, before moving out again for college - how can that ever feel like home? Hence his reminiscence of growing up on Bradford Court, and his (happy) memories from when he was a kid...only to have an unlikely intersection with a different childhood companion, in the form of Janine.

And, finally, I'd come full circle, back to the original idea - the two of them having a quiet, one-on-one conversation. After some digging into the Complete Guide to refresh my knowledge of Stoneybrook coffeehouse-type establishments, I finally settled on Renwick's, which seemed the most likely to serve mint-flavored hot chocolate. This was another bit of personal Christmas delight coming through - I love the combination of mint and chocolate, and its never easier to find than around Christmastime. If you've never had mint-flavored hot chocolate, you should definitely try it =)

One of the trickiest parts of writing this piece was the conversation between Janine and Charlie - I wanted to find the right balance, so that it worked not only as a friendly conversation, but that it would also have this layer of flirtatious ambiguity. That's easy enough to write for Charlie, but keeping Janine from turning into a total flirt in response was a bigger chore. I like writing witty, subtle flirtation, but this was a real struggle. It took the longest, and I'm pretty satisfied with how it turned out (many edits later, LOL).

Considering how much I love the idea of these two together, it's surprisingly hard for me to write them to my satisfaction, and make it feel realistic and authentic - usually writing for my ships comes a bit more naturally to me. Though, I'm not sure I have any other ships with a character as reserved as Janine, so maybe that's it? IDK. I'm still trying to find my sweet spot =)

Without constraints on what I was to write, I was very nervous about posting this story, and how well my recipient would like it - it *is* a pretty small ship, and the stories she'd written with Janine had her expressing lesbian tendencies/interests. I wasn't sure how much of that was a true belief that Janine was gay, and how much was simply a desire for basically I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, LOL. I always feel more comfortable when the person I'm writing a story for gives me some direction, especially if I don't know them very well. Luckily, [ profile] tornyourdress seemed to really enjoy it ♥ I also received very nice comments and kudos from a bunch of other people, which just made my day/week/month (since they're still trickling in, hehe).

See, this is why I love BSC fandom so much - everyone is so freaking nice. Looking at the stats for the BSC stories submitted to Yuletide, mine is actually the longest AND least popular of the bunch (not to mention, the only one that doesn't feature a femmeslash pairing), which is kinda :-/ But I can't be mad - my recipient loved it, which was the point of the exercise =) Plus, I received an amazing gift myself, so all in all, I'd say this Yuletide was a success.

Yuletide recs are to come =) I bookmarked a bunch at AO3, and of course I want to gush about my own awesome gift, but those definitely deserve their own post ♥

(Anonymous) 2012-01-03 12:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I am SO going to have to be a little more specific next time! I've read (and written) mostly femmeslash in this fandom, but in a way that made me less concerned about what slant this Yuletide fic took - and as I said, it was super-delightful to get a Janine story.

Really interesting to hear about the process of writing this, and thanks again for a super Yuletide fic! :)

-- tornyourdress

[identity profile] 2012-01-05 02:47 pm (UTC)(link)
I looooooooooved it, by the way!

[identity profile] 2012-05-08 05:50 pm (UTC)(link)
This commentary is awesome! If you haven't already noticed, I've gobbled up all your Charlie/Janine fic! It wasn't a couple I ever thoug I could want, and now I totally do!

I only hope there's more of them in the future!

[identity profile] 2012-05-10 04:15 pm (UTC)(link)
I totally read her two Charlie/Janine fics! I wish she had more!!!