luxken27: (Heroes - Peter contemplation)
LuxKen27 ([personal profile] luxken27) wrote2012-01-05 09:39 pm

Kids Inc | Oneshot: Bereaved

Title: Bereaved
Fandom: Kids Incorporated
Universe: Canon (Season 6)
Genre: Family, Hurt/Comfort
Rating: T
Warning: (minor) character death
Word Count: 4,522
Summary: When her grandfather unexpectedly passes away, Stacy struggles to find a way to grieve. A Christmas giftfic for [ profile] gloriafan.

Links: DW | LJ | | AO3

Inspiration:Sour Girl” © 1999 Scott Weiland & Dean DeLeo [Stone Temple Pilots]

Several months before Christmas, [ profile] gloriafan emailed me about exchanging giftfics for the holidays. I was agreeable to this - I ♥ writing giftfic for my friends :D - and asked for prompts, as I am wont to do. He sent me a couple, in a couple of different fandoms ~ and this fic is the product of one of them (my favorite one, no less).

Actually, I was able to fulfill more than one of his requests, which (with my track record) is exceptionally rare, LOL :P - I used one for the LJ Halloween meme. And, even though I had nearly two months to work on this, I still was pretty much writing until the last minute. One day, I hope to grow out of this pattern, LOL.

Anyway, this was his prompt:

Kids Inc. - Ryan/Stacy - When her grandfather passes away, Stacy can't seem to find solace in anyone. [For Christmasness factor ~ how's about setting it in December and having Christmas flashbacks? I also have a scene in my mind where it begins to snow, Stacy shivers, and Ryan holds an umbrella over her. IDK, you are the deciding voice for this pairing in my book, and I'd love to see where you take it].

My first question was whether or not he wanted something from Season 6, as one of the episodes has Stacy dealing with her grandfather being put in a retirement home. Unfortunately, this isn't an episode that's readily available, though I did find the final song and, thus, figured out what her grandfather looked like. Which is all well and good - but S6 is on the cusp of KI canon that I care about, so it would be a challenge to write something set in that season.

So, I decided to really roll with his idea of Christmastime flashbacks, cute moments between Stacy and her grandfather that would demonstrate their closeness and why she'd be so devastated by his death. This, of course, meant I had to figure out what sort of character her grandfather would be - both as a person, and as a grandparent. Which meant remembering my own grandfathers, both of whom have, sadly, passed away. (This fic ended up hitting a little too close to home by the end...) And thinking about what little bit of canon continuity we have for Stacy and her family.

Because Stacy and Renee were both members of the main cast, more is known about their family than any of the other Kids'. In episode 4x13, it's revealed that their mother's family is from England (making cousin Samantha a maternal relation). I toyed with the idea of writing making this grandfather her mother's father, especially after reading a [ profile] little_details thread about English traditions at Christmas. That would make him (most likely) Anglican, hence the question posed to my f-list before my spate of holiday writing :P But, after much hemming and hawing, the *one* flashback scene I didn't want to give up was the second one, with Stacy watching the Midnight Mass live from Vatican City on Christmas Eve.

So, she became Catholic instead, LOL :P And her grandfather morphed into her father's father to support this idea. With that settled, all that was left was choosing other memorable moments, and dredging up the angst to write the final section of the story.

Even though this is listed as a Season 6 story, it's actually much more than that - it starts 3 years pre-canon, with a five-year-old Stacy contemplating where she wants to hang her namesake ornament on her family's Christmas tree. She asks Renee for help, but Renee (in her sisterly way) wants to do it for her because she's the Big Sister and all. Before the stubborn girls can get into a fight about it, their grandfather swoops Stacy up in his arms and helps her hang her ornament in her desired place - right next to his =)

You've heard of daddy's little girls? How about granddaddy's little girl ♥ ?

The second scene flashes forward three years. Stacy and Renee are at home while the rest of their family attends the local Christmas Eve mass. The girls are too young to attend, but Stacy doesn't mind ~ she likes to watch the live Broadcast from the Vatican, with the Pope leading the service. This is actually one of my Christmas traditions, passed down through the Italian side of the family. The service is very long and staid, but it's also beautiful and just fascinating to watch. I love the beauty and majesty of St. Peter's Basilica, and all of the celebrants gathered from the far corners of the globe. It's truly a site to behold, even if you aren't religious (or Catholic). I can definitely see Stacy being taken with the same dreamy qaulity, especially as child staying up way past her bedtime, LOL :P

Her grandfather tries to persuade her to go to bed (so that her parents can play Santa), but she won't be dissuaded - so instead, he sits with her on the floor and explains to her everything that's going on, knowing full well she won't be able to stay awake for the entire service. Sure enough, she falls asleep, and he carries her to bed =) I thought it was a sweet moment to end the scene, another demonstration of the sort of bond they share. He's quite patient with her, even when she's being stubborn.

Scene three fast forwards to 1988, the year Stacy turns thirteen. She's incredibly excited for Christmas, because she already knows one of the gifts she will receive - a birthstone ring, given to her by her grandfather. This is important to her for two reasons: (1) it's a long family tradition, having been passed down from at least her great-great-grandmother's generation, and (2) it will be her first piece of "real" (grown-up) jewelery. In my head, Stacy grows up to be very fashion-conscious, so things like this are very important to her, and she's looked forward to this day ever since watching Renee unwrap her special gift three years earlier.

Stacy and Renee were both born in January, so they each receive a garnet ring. Luckily for their grandfather (and me! :P) garnets come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so he was still able to give each girl a unique gift, one perfectly suited to her tastes. Stacy receives a wine red garnet, which also just so happens to be the New York State Gem. Renee has a Tsavorite garnet, in beautiful emerald tones. Equally gorgeous, and equally meaningful to each girl, knowing the thought that their grandfather put into choosing just the right gift for them =) Garnets were prized among ancient jewelery makers, and show up in several royal pieces across several different empires.

These first scenes are little slices of life; each slightly longer than the previous as we see the many facets of the close relationship Stacy shared with her grandfather. It was a unique bond all their own, but her grandfather was the sort who could make everyone feel special ~ he didn't play favorites. This makes the final half of the story poignant, I think, especially because Stacy grieves so differently from the rest of her family. He loved them all equally - and they are equally saddened by his sudden passing - but it's only Stacy who can't quite figure out how to express what she's feeling.

While the rest of her family is open with their tears and memories, Stacy bottles it all up. She can't process it all, so she shuts down, and then feels guilty for having this response. It's only made worse by the fact that everyone else can seemingly mourn freely, so she wonders what's wrong with her that she can't. She wonders if this means the rest of her family had closer, more important relationships with her grandfather than she did - and she wonders if she's even worthy to follow through with their Christmas traditions now that he's gone and she doesn't feel anything for it.

Her brooding concerns not only her family, but her friends as well. Her bandmates converge and share their worry over her withdrawal - from them, and from life in general - and wonder what, if anything, they can do to help her. Even though this part of the story is actually set in 1991, I chose to use the '89 cast because it was the last one that Stacy was a part of. It's sort of suspended animation - with Robin still the shy, young newbie - but something I didn't mind handwaving a little.

Finally, the others decide they have to figure out a way to get in touch with Ryan, and bring him back to town to comfort her. I'm not sure I made it all that clear in the story just exactly what he was doing, aheh. My idea (and this was the idea from the start, the only thing that survived the initial brainstorming/notes stage) was that he was in college (of course) and had formed a band that managed to put together a small, localized tour over the holiday break. Basically, they're hitting all the major cities on the East Coast, not really travelling beyond New England but still moving at a pretty rapid clip. This being '91 and all, it was a time before cell phones, so keeping in touch would've been trying, at the very least.

Stacy compares her reaction to learning of Ryan's plans with her reaction to her grandfather's death and wonders what's wrong with her, that she can cry over the former but not the latter? Personally, I think it's easier for her to express emotion because she knows that Ryan is coming back. It's a safe expression, with immediate feedback, so she can modulate her response accordingly. Mourning, however? There's always something left to wonder in death - it's so easy to start second-guessing yourself, your last moments together, etc. Guilt is perhaps a natural chaser. (It was for me, at least.)

Through what amounts to a long chain of Telephone, the Kids ask Flip (the new owner of the P*lace) if he knows how to contact Riley (now in college); once they get ahold of him, he suggests calling the Kid (now in Chicago for school, but still friendly with his former bandmates), who might have an idea of how to contact Ryan. He actually knows the other guys in Ryan's band, and manages to contact them and tell them what's going on. With all of that in place, he flies home for Christmas; his first order of business is checking up on his best friend himself.

I really, really like Stacy and the Kid's best friendship - I think it's a great example of how two people can be incredibly close without being romantic. They're so comfortable and easy with each other, so it doesn't take much for him to persuade her to take a journey to the P*lace, under the guise of buying her a malted (shades of episode 4x5, aheh). Since its two days before Christmas, the P*lace is understandably deserted, making it the perfect spot for a quiet, intimate reunion.

I haven't written much hurt/comfort of late (well, I could say this *before* December at least, LOL), but I knew the moment I saw this prompt that it was my endgame here. The others are right - Ryan knows Stacy well enough to know exactly what to say to her in the moment...and she feels safe enough with him to finally cry and express all of her ugly, mixed-up emotions.

It was a deliberate decision on my part for this to happen, and I did my best to write it in a way so as not to infer that only Ryan can induce her expressions of emotion. He doesn't control her (and has no desire to), but he understands the way she thinks and reacts, and gives her the space to do just be herself. Her family cares about her, but make her feel guilty that she isn't conforming to their standard of grief; her friends care about her, but feel alienated but her withdrawn behavior. A boyfriend is somewhere in between, but Ryan is even more special than that - the bond they share is very strong and deep, built on so many years of friendship and familiarity. For me, they are enduring because they understand each other so well, and intrinsically know what the other needs in that time of need.

It was interesting, when I finally finished this piece, to compare it to For Christmas, and Forever. That story was also hurt/comfort, of sorts - and it was Stacy being the rock of understanding and support for Ryan there. That story was also more romantic than this one, but again, that was a deliberate choice. For Bereaved, I wanted to focus on the comforting quality of their relationship, and demonstrate how two people can be very close without being all over each other, in a manner of speaking :P

[ profile] gloriafan really seemed to love this story, which was, of course, the ultimate goal ♥ This will probably become my go-to hurt/comfort story for a good, long while - sometimes you're just in the mood for intimacy, not necessarily sex, you know?
gloriafan: Tom and Sybil from "Downton Abbey." (Christmas - Ornaments)

[personal profile] gloriafan 2012-01-06 04:08 am (UTC)(link)
This seriously could be the best fic I have ever read. No joke. The way you describe the relationship between Stacy and her grandfather is beautiful and oh so heartbreaking.

Thanks so much for this - it's way more than I imagined when giving the prompt ♥