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"Pas de Deux" (SPN, Gen, PG) for picfor1000!
the arch of the eyebrows gives it away
innie_darling
Hi, everybody!

Here's my picfor1000 fic. Supernatural, no spoilers, and I'll spill everything in the author's notes because while I do think the story might be a little puzzling, my lovely beta janissa11 liked the "whammy" of reading it without any idea of what exactly was going on.

Anyway, here's my picture prompt. My thanks to slodwick for running this challenge once again, and making it look so easy!




It took her a minute to realize that the girl in the creamy wool sweater, the girl with the glossy hair peeking out from under a cashmere cap, the girl with the bright smile on her pink-cheeked face was actually her.

As soon as it clicked in her mind, Laura found herself inside that coveted body, feeling health and happiness singing in the blood coursing merrily, busily through her veins. Only the tip of her nose was cold, bearing the brunt of a few random snowflakes, as she walked down the busy street, politely raising a hand or nodding at the people she passed. It seemed like her legs knew exactly where to go, so Laura gave herself over to the pleasure of looking at her town, all spruced up and decked out in lights and decorations for the holidays. She'd never noticed before how graceful the old-fashioned streetlights were, or how bright little red holly berries could shine. And she'd definitely never noticed the little building that looked like a barn, no matter how confidently her hand reached out to slide the door open.

Inside it was all warm wood, polished by time, and a wall made of mirrors. She shrugged the bag off her shoulders, changed into supple leather pointe shoes, and headed to the barre for a warmup. A flash from the mirror and she saw herself, hair smoothed back in a demure little bun, leotard and tights fitting snugly over toned muscles. She felt stronger than ever before, and ready to work. Touching her nose to her knees and arching her back in turn, she made herself limber, fit to move.

Her voice stuck in her throat for a moment, like the cold was enough to push it down, but within a few moments, she was warm enough to hum her accompaniment as she danced.

No, not that tune. That was something else, something out of a nightmare, something the monster had been humming as he pinned her up for his pleasure. Was it worse to keep her eyes open or shut as he reached for her, drawing the back of one hand down the fall of her hair, tracing her skull with such attentiveness? She tried to twist away, but there was nowhere for her to go, except, maybe, by closing her eyes.

Eyes wide to take in everything that made the town magical, Laura found her way home. The stone steps gleamed with a layer of powdery snow, and icicles hung from the top of the porch. She headed for the kitchen and opened the discreetly humming refrigerator. A mug of milk went into the microwave, and she stretched to reach the basket of ripening fruit hanging just above her head. Plump peaches sliced and arranged in slivers on her plate, she settled down on the couch and ate hungrily, picking up alternating pieces of fruit so as not to mess up the pattern she'd created.

She always liked things just so, Dad had always said, and she'd mastered the disapproving look before she could properly talk. Not that he'd seen it often; they'd never had problems understanding each other, once they'd been abandoned to be just the two of them. It was the best thing that could have happened, Laura always thought, and sometimes said, when Dad looked particularly down. He'd nod, but he never said he agreed.

It wasn't better for it to be just them, because two was such a little number, just two points needed for a line, and there was nothing stable about that. Three for a triangle, the strongest shape there was, and nothing could excuse her mother for walking out on them, for not caring that Dad would be lonely, for not caring who Laura would grow up to be. If they had been three, the nightmare would never have gotten her.

There's a sound like thunder as she heads up the stairs, but she doesn't remember seeing a single cloud in the sky. The shower spray is like a jungle downpour, and tropical scents drift upward in the steam when she bypasses Dad's plain shampoo for her own.

The heat has kicked in by the time she leaves the bathroom, hair still wet and feet bare. The paint swatches tacked to her walls flutter like aspen leaves when she brushes her arm along the wall, straining to reach the light switch tucked behind the bookshelf; she hasn't been able to convince Dad yet that he shouldn't be spending his publishers' advance money on her. She pulls on her old white nightgown and her fuzzy apricot robe and slippers, then heads back downstairs to make tea.

It's always a puzzle trying to figure out where Dad could have left his tea kettle, the one big enough for several cups; Dad lives up to the stereotype of the absent-minded writer with a vengeance, and she's resorted to lining all available flat spaces with hot pads. This time his travel mug is decently in the sink, but the kettle itself is mysteriously tucked away in the oven like a leftover casserole dish. Laura smiles and shakes her head, rinses it clean, fills it, and sets it on the burner. The flames jump, at the ready, sparking a blue brighter than the sky. While the water heats, she makes up the tray, fixing sandwiches for him and a few butter cookies for them both.

Kicking off the cumbersome slippers, she mounts the stairs carefully, tray balanced between her steady hands. There's no answer when she knocks on his study door with her foot. She manages to maneuver the handle with her hip, jiggling it deftly, and opens the door.

Inside is all ash and destruction, desolation and emptiness, and lightning streaks blue across the sky as she drops the full tray with a sound like thunder. Her first words aren't to him, but to whoever took him, or whoever saw. "Where's my dad?" She closes her eyes. "Where's my dad?"

+

Author's notes: Okay, so here's what the hell I was thinking. Remember that girl from 2x20, "What Is and What Should Never Be," who keeps appearing to Dean, and who the boys save from the djinn at the end? That's Laura. This story is meant to be her exploration of her world after the djinn's interference, but just as the one horrible flaw in Dean's world was that he had no relationship with Sam, so the flaw in Laura's world - to offset the health and prosperity - is that she cannot find her dad.

And the way that I got from the picture prompt to here is circuitous, but I was thinking that the stuffed owl and wood paneling looked like a study, and that's something Laura would have been expecting to see when she opened that door.

Wow, I really hope that made sense.


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As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

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I really like this. I did need the author's note to fit it into the proper spot of Supernatural-dom, but even without that it was really effective.

I like the POV - it gives us enough insight to care about her, but is distant enough to make it feel like we're watching, and waiting...

And I love it that you took a totally minor character and gave her such a rich back-story.

Very enjoyable. Thank you.

Thank you so much! I'm really pleased that the push-pull I was going for worked for you.

I like this a lot. I made the connection to WIAWSNB even without the notes, and thought the story was wonderfully sad and creepy.

I completely understood who Laura was. It was both the physical description of her, and the description of the monster. I actually guessed who she was by the second paragraph and then the description of the monster solidified my theory. I didn't quite get the ending but I loved the journey. There were many lovely little details. It was such a tactile story. *g*

I don't know if you ever watched Firefly, but something about the way Laura's feet moved as she dangled from where the djinn had strung her up reminded me very much of the attention Firefly paid to the feet of Summer Glau (River), who was a dancer. So that's where the descriptions of Laura and the fact that she dances came from.

Oh, the ending - in the ep, just as Dean longs for Sam, so Laura longs for her dad, and I thought it would be effective if she only found out at the end that her dad wasn't where she thought he was (safely in his study), and that she couldn't find him at all.

I happen to LOVE Firefly and I agree, there was a great deal of focus on her feet. I also think that showing bare feet indicates a sort of vulnerability which both the girl and River possessed.

I got the ending when you explained it, it just didn't quite click for me in the story. Maybe because it was such a quick moment that if you happened to be less then 100% focused, you might miss it. I don't know, it didn't impact me emotionally. Don't get me wrong, I loved the story and I think you wrote it very well. I adored the journey. I loved the details. I could tell who this person was with an economy of words. I guessed I missed the SHOCK of her father not existing in this world. Maybe if there was some foreshadowing it would have had more impact. Please don't take this as naysaying though. I love your stories. *g* You're an author who I have bookmarked because I constantly check your LJ for new stories. You asked for an honest reaction though so that's mine. I love the journey, the end didn't feel as important as I think you wanted it to. I'm guessing most people "got" it though.

No, that's totally fair. I've been wanting to write this story for a long time, and I thought this challenge was the right way to do it, but I guess I didn't get everything done in one thousand words.

Thanks!

I really liked this and did guess that it was from WIAWSNB, because of the dad thing (I must be way to in to rewatching and rewatching).
I loved the triangle and believe it's true (being in a triangle, myself), but mostly just liked her and felt so infinitely sad for her that her dad was in fact gone.

Oh, that's fantastic to hear - thanks!

Ah, the author's note was very helpful. I was expecting the person to be Ruby, even after you used the name Laura.

I love the connection you made with WIAWNSB. It makes total sense that this would be her nightmare, as well as her perfection.

This was lovely and sensual. I could practically taste the peaches.

Yeah, I figured this one would need footnotes. I'm so pleased you liked this!

Hope you don't mind me pointing this out, but dancers don't wear "leather pointe shoes".

While the outer sole and (in some brands) inner lining of the shank are leather and suede, the fabric of the shoe itself is usually satin.

This is really just an insignificant detail of a very evocative and interesting fic, but it did pull me out of the story straight away.

Oh, no! I know nothing about ballet gear, so I looked up a bunch of different shoes online, and found a few sites that were debating "leather" vs. "canvas" pointe shoes, and a few stores (like "Gaynor Minden") that advertised leather shoes. I hate being wrong and/or clumsy about stuff like that, and I'm sorry it jarred you out of the story. Thanks for the info!

Wonderful details in this, and I loved the sense of flickering menace beneath the peaceful surface. Neat idea to do Laura's pov, I could see that being her dream-world.

Thanks so much! You know, I had meant to write Laura's story for a prompt at spn_xx, but never got around to it. Will the comm start up again?

Ooh. We'd like to. pheebs1 and I were pretty much clinging to fandom by our fingernails when we stopped--especially pheebs. But we'll see.

Aw, I hope the new eps get you both back in the groove!

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This is stunning, hon! Your words are always a pleasure in themselves: the details, those small things you only seem to notice, but fitted into the properly context after reading your notes, the story becomes awesome. Chilling and scary. Yes. The fatal flaw of Laura's wish-dream must have been this.

I'm so pleased that this worked for you! Thanks, honey!

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Ah, thanks so much, sugar!

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