Everyone seems to really like this fic, so I thought I'd give it a go for my first commentary. I'm pretty fond of it, too, so you know. :D
This fic came in to being as an answer for one of the Character Fantasies on MorganAdam's thread on the forum (http://www.psychfic.com/community/showthread.php?t=1695) for samanthajoan. It took me a while to settle on this idea because I really wanted to do something that wasn't overtly O'Spencer because I hate doing the obvious thing. It's in my nature to be contrary whilst still adhering to the technicality of my restrictions. Not that O'Spencer was required, but it was expected (by myself even), so of course, I didn't want to do that. 'Course, as Mo pointed out in her review, it still CAN be O'Spencer. The point was I didn't write it with that in mind. Lol.
Anyway. So I came up with the idea of Juliet watching Shawn sleep due to some sort of job-related thing. And the only reason I could think of that would involve her watching him sleep would be if they were spending some serious time together. And serious time would only be spent working if they were...you got it, stuck in a safe-house. Thus the idea was born.
The apartment was quiet aside from the muted grumbling of her partner in the kitchen and the sound of his spoon clinking against the sides of a ceramic coffee cup.
After I had decided on the idea (which I discuss below) I wanted to set the mood for the scenario I was imagining as quickly and as vividly as possible. So I set the fic at night, in the late, late hours, in a very quiet place. I wanted noise to feel a little bit dangerous, darkness comforting and concealing. I wanted to convey the weariness of the group. So the initial set up, with the images and all of the description of light and dark was just to set the mood and tone of the piece. It's one of my favorite parts of the fic.
The lights in the small living room had been turned off so that the only the pale flickering of the muted television and the stream of fluorescent white from the kitchen doorway, spilling across the carpet and revealing its dark blue color in a long stripe, provided any light to see by.
I hate this sentence. *facepalm* The images are good, but the structure of the sentence is really terrible and if I hadn't been so excited to post, I probably would have taken the time to try and fix it. But instead I decided to turn a blind eye. XD
Juliet sat in a worn blue-gray recliner, her stockinged feet tucked up underneath her as she watched the man passed out on the dark brown suede couch a few feet to her right, her fingers curled around the grip of her weapon.
Once I had settled on the safe-house idea, the next thing I did was try to figure out how I wanted to see Shawn and Juliet. This part is important because for me, a lot of the best stuff happens based on where the characters are. For instance, if Shawn had been in a bed, this would have been a much different fic. And probably overtly Shules. Because watching Shawn in a bedroom suggests intimacy and a deliberate thought process. If Shawn is passed out on the couch, it suggests it happened by accident. Even more importantly, there are no blankets. Thus, I can describe Shawn's sleeping figure (which is an important part of every sleeping!Shawn fic). That description is in the following paragraph.
Shawn sprawled lengthwise across the couch, using the puffy armrest furthest from where she sat as a pillow. One of the narrow rectangular red throw pillows was wrapped in his arms, tucked beneath his chin and pressed tight against his chest, which was covered in a thin forest green t-shirt that pulled taut around the soft white curve of his biceps. Another sliver of pale skin peeked out between the t-shirt and the waistband of his jeans, almost glowing in the blue-tinted light of the television. One knee bent in, foot pressed into the corner of the couch and the other leg stuck out over the other armrest, his sock-covered foot dangling freely.
His face was slack, which pulled the dark purple crescents beneath them down ever further, making him look even more weary, despite the softening effect of sleep. Pink lips parted as he drew in a breath, a crease flickering across his forehead.
As I'm sure you can tell, I took great pains to describe Shawn and his sleeping-self. Because this is why I love sleeping!fics. The best thing about guys being asleep is the way they look so it has to be properly described so as to create the perfect mental picture. I think I actually get away with this ridiculously detailed description a lot better because of the style I wound up using for the entire fic. I started with description so as to set the mood and the scene properly, and it wound up lending itself to the description of asleep!Shawn. If this were one of my normal fics, this kind of description would stand out and it would be really obvious (more so anyway) that this is pure self-indulgence. I didn't do that on purpose, so it's pretty neat that it works out like that.
I was actually very careful through these first five paragraphs to describe everything in as much detail as I thought was digestible and easy to read. It was really important to me that this initial scene be incredibly vivid and easy to picture. I wanted the reader to know this front living room. To feel what Juliet is feeling. I think the result is pretty effective.
Juliet's gaze focused on his face, willing him to stay asleep. Shhh, it's all right, she thought at him. Everything's fine.
When he stilled again, breathing evening out and softening to near inaudibility, Juliet let out a sigh, her eyes drifting to his shoulder.
Shawn wasn't injured until this exact line. I needed Juliet to do something, her eyes to go somewhere and that somewhere turned out to be Shawn's shoulder. And she couldn't just stare at Shawn's shoulder, because, “Gee, that's a very nice shoulder.” That doesn't fit the mood at all. Or my not-deliberate-O'Spencer decree. So the natural way to fix that problem was to injure the bejeezus out of Shawn. He is in a safe-house after all, so there has to be some kind of motivation behind that. And, yeah, I can't resist hurting him. I'm shameless.
The extensive bruising there was hidden by his t-shirt, but she remembered vividly the black and blue of it, and even more vividly, Shawn's muffled scream as they had pushed it back into place. There were other wounds—more specifically, road rash curving around his shoulder, down along his ribcage and along his left thigh—but those too were hidden by his clothing. He slept now only because of the heavy-duty drugs they had procured for him a few hours ago.
The injuries were completely spur of the moment. Juliet's looking at his shoulder? Okay, he dislocated it. And, well, I've dislocated his shoulder, that's not severe enough. I think...ROAD RASH. YEAH. SOMETHING INVOLVING FALLING OR BEING PUSHED OUT OF A CAR OR CRASHING HIS BIKE. OOOH. And then, Gee I'm mean. He probably is feeling the ouchie. Oooh, drug-induced sleep! BRILLIANT! NOW I'VE RATIONALIZED HIS PASSING OUT ON THE COUCH INSTEAD OF GETTING INTO A BED. AWESOME!
And that's pretty much how that went.
The light from the kitchen doorway disappeared abruptly, eclipsed by her partner as he returned, coffee mug clutched in one hand.
This was about the time I realized that Lassie has been making a cup of coffee for like, AN HOUR and went, oops, I should bring him back in, huh? YAY MORE LIGHT IMAGERY! o/
He moved into the room, steps nearly silent on the carpet. Pausing by the couch, he looked down at their sleeping charge. His eyes flicked up to hers.
Then here, ooh, let's insert some AURAL stuff. FULL SENSORY EXPERIENCE.
"How's he doing?"
Her shoulders pushed up in a small shrug, eyes roving over the lines of Shawn's sleeping figure again. "He's out. The painkillers did a good job."
This phrase here, about Juliet's shoulders, I went over it several times, trying to get it right. I couldn't find a good way of describing it without just using “shrugged” and without it turning into something ridiculously and unnecessarily detailed. This one is okay, though it's a little weird considering the fic is in her POV.
Lassiter grunted softly and stepped back, sitting himself down in a square wooden chair, upholstered in a red that matched the throw pillows.
Juliet's eyes fell on Shawn's face again.
This bit of interaction was really fun to write because of Lassiter and Juliet's relationship. Everything is simple between them. Status reports and the type of understanding that comes from a close partnership like theirs. They get along even when they don't. There's a lot to be said about them in what they do (like Juliet looking at Shawn while she explains).
Being run down on the road, nearly run over, and forced into hiding by a man desperately evading capture, it was all a little much even for Juliet to take in, so Shawn's quiet, borne out of shock was easy to understand. That, however, didn't make it any easier to endure.
Lolz. I hated writing this paragraph. I always kind of hate adding in paragraphs that recap what you missed. I've read too many books with the SHOW, DON'T TELL rule and now it pains me to have to tell. This is part of the reason a lot of my one-shots don't really have plots. Because if I come up with a plot, I feel the need to follow it from beginning to end, rather than just being like, HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE, now this is the really exciting bit. My lack of plotting is what leads to my whump fics (like this one), where I have no idea what happened, no idea what's going to happen, BUT BOY THIS SCENE WAS FUN, WASN'T IT?
I do like what this paragraph hints at though. Since I have as little idea about what the heck Juliet is talking about, it's just as interesting to me as it is to you. I just went, well crap, I need to explain why they're in a safe-house without doing it really poorly in dialogue. Uhhhh. Talk about Shawn being traumatized annnnd relate it to the physical scene! Perfect!
His quiet motionlessness only seemed to further underscore how badly the whole thing was affecting him. It seemed unnatural to see him like this.
I also hated writing this. Everybody and their mom writes that it's weird seeing Shawn still. SO BORING. Even if it is possibly true.
On the couch, Shawn twitched, legs tensing and pulling up toward his body, his fingers digging into the pillow in his grasp. Juliet grimaced and slid her legs out from beneath her, ready to try and soothe him back into peaceful slumber. Her toes were just brushing the carpet when he shot upright, shoulders tensing hard enough to elicit a hiss and a wince of pain, despite the drugs in his system.
At this point I realized I needed something to happen. Because as nice as it is listening to Juliet inner-monologue about sleeping!Shawn, it doesn't make much of a fic. So it was either have the bad guy bust down the door and have a big dramatic finish (probably too
swiftly for any real satisfaction) or something else. The something else I settled on was having Shawn wake up. Adds interest and excitement without having to sacrifice the mood I worked so hard to create.
Lassiter jerked to attention in response, swearing as hot coffee splashed over the lip of his cup onto his thigh.
Lassie whump! Lol. I'm not gonna lie, I was having a hard time making sure I didn't forget Lassiter was in the fic.
Shawn's head jerked from side to side, his eyes sweeping furiously around the room, even as he blinked, trying to clear away the bleariness of sleep. His fingers dug into the suede, legs tensed for action.
I looooooooove writing freakedout!Shawn. And I figured, hey, he's in a safe-house, traumatized, injured, probably had a bad dream; he'd totally be wigged out if he woke up somewhere unfamiliar. *glee*
Juliet got to her feet and approached him carefully with her hands held out. "Shawn," she said gently, "Shawn. Everything's okay."
He shook his head, a crease forming between his eyes as he frowned at her, still blinking. "Jules?" he replied, confusion thick in his voice. His head turned when Lassiter got to his feet, grumbling, and stalked off into the kitchen.
Then I remembered he was also on drugs. Epic. Win. So he's extra confused and mushy-brained. Mushy-brained Shawn is slow. I like slow, confused!Shawn. Initially when I wrote the line about Lassiter leaving, Shawn was pretty much just noticing because, oh hai, movement over there. It wasn't meant to be a SOMETHING MOVING minor freak out moment, but after having someone interpret it that way in a review, I reaaaaaaaally like the idea of it being a sort of flinch.
She moved forward, edging down on the sofa beside him. "Yes, Shawn, it's me. You're okay," she said. "You're safe."
Slowly, the muscles in Shawn's body eased, though he put his hands to his eyes and then kept blinking. "Somebody gave me drugs?" he mumbled.
This is one of my favorite moments in the entire fic. I love love love love looove the idea of Shawn waking up and being drowsy and out of it and freaked the heck out and trying to figure out WHAT IS GOING ON and just thinking that he's having a hard time waking up and then finally realizing when it's not going away that it's not a sleepy feeling. It's a drugged feeling. I don't know. It's the vulnerability of it, I guess. The fact that he was injured and losing control of everything and then he's here and he doesn't know where he is and he's been drugged and not being able to think just making an already unnerving situation more unnerving. It's just gwah. The whole trying to fight for clear-headedness really flips one of my switches.
Juliet nodded, brushing her hand lightly against his back. "Yes, you dislocated your shoulder and suffered some serious road rash. You were in a lot of pain."
Juliet I feel is really meh throughout this whole bit. Her lines seem really generic to me, but I couldn't figure out how else to deal with it and my betas said it was fine and she is a cop, so I decided to just let it go. Shawn's awesome reactions are enough to make me not care if Juliet is a little flat.
He made a face, tentatively reaching to prod at his shoulder. Its answering throb of pain seemed to convince him. "Where're we?" he asked, looking around again, more slowly this time.
This line gives me a crystal clear picture. I can see Shawn's face, see his movements, hear the exact way he says the words, all of it. Combined with how the wheels are turning in his head as far as I'm imagining, this is just one of my favorite parts of the fic. I always get a tiny thrill when I manage something that just hits me with an image as clear as this one is.
"A safe house."
"Derringer," Shawn murmured softly under his breath and Juliet got the impression that it was more of an answer to himself than a question for her. A faint shiver rippled through him.
Whee! More hints at the unknowable trauma! I like unknowable traumas, because no one can say it wasn't traumatic enough for the reaction it got.
She put a gentle hand on his knee. "You should try to go back to sleep, Shawn. You need it."
There should have been a bit more conversation before this line, I feel, but lack of material is what led me to continue. I also dislike it because it's sort of like a slap in the face with the conclusion. IT'LL END WHEN HE'S ASLEEP GUYS. KTHX. *facepalm*
He shook his head, blinking again in an obvious effort to wake himself up. "No, no, I don't want to." His eyes flicked toward the door.
Seriously. Love drugged-and-struggling-not-to-be!Shawn. LOVE HIM.
"You're safe here, Shawn," Juliet told him. "Carlton and I are keeping watch and the only other person who knows you're here is the Chief."
Shawn scrubbed his hands over his face. "I know. I trust you, I just—"
Juliet got to her feet, earning an anxious look from Shawn, which rapidly dissipated as she pushed him over and sat down at the end of the couch on his right. "Well if you're not going to sleep, at least lie down and get comfortable. We'll be here for awhile."
He stared at her for a long moment, eyes bloodshot and ringed with dark circles, but he finally refused, shaking his head. "Jules..." His hands went to his eyes, rubbing again and he leaned back into the couch, a faint grimace flickering across his face. "How long have we been here?"
Juliet sighed and sat back as well, resigning herself to his wakefulness for at least a little while longer. "Only about four hours."
THIS SENTENCE IS SO BAD.
"What time is it?" he asked, eyes flicking toward the heavily draped windows.
She smiled. "Almost two AM."
He looked at her, really taking her in for the first time. "And you're not tired?"
Her smile turned wry. "Overlapping twelve hour shifts. Carlton is just having a cup of coffee to soothe his nerves before he goes to get some sleep." She raised her hands. "Don't ask me how that makes sense."
Lulz. This was entirely made up because I realized after the shift description that Lassie shouldn't be drinking more coffee. I like the idea of it unwinding him though lol.
Shawn's mouth curved into a weary smile. "The man's an addict."
She chuckled softly. "You're telling me."
They sat in silence for a long moment, her attention focused on him, though not directly, the sounds of Lassiter grumpily fixing a new cup of coffee drifting in from the kitchen.
Seriously, Lassie takes FOREVER to make a cuppa.
A frown finally appeared on Shawn's face. "Where is Gus?"
She lifted her eyebrows at him. "Last you said he was on a business trip—New England, I think? Visiting his brother for a little while, too, I think." She frowned herself. "You don't remember?"
GETTING GUS OUT OF THE PICTURE, rofl. Otherwise Shawn was primed for a spaz attack. Couldn't let that happen.
Shawn pressed his fingers into his eye sockets and then murmured, "No, yeah. I remember. I just..."
She nodded. "It's been a long few days."
Shawn huffed out a slightly derisive noise of agreement. "Yeah."
They both turned part way when Lassiter emerged from the kitchen again. He gestured down the hall. "I'm going to..." He waved his hand. "...whatever."
Lololol. I love this line. I can just see Lassie's face when he says whatever and it cracks me up.
Juliet nodded. "Okay. I'll wake you if we need you."
Lassiter grunted. His eyes flicked briefly to Shawn and then he shuffled off down the hall.
"Twelve hours is a long time," Shawn murmured when he was gone. He shifted, hand hovering over his thigh where it was torn from the road and he winced.
"Not so long. We've done much longer on stake-outs." She watched him shift again, trying to find a comfortable position that didn't put so much pressure on his wounds and then reached out, putting a hand to his arm. "Come on. Lie down, Shawn. You can't be comfortable."
Another indistinct noise and he shifted again. Finally his forehead pinched. "I don't want to sleep," he protested feebly.
"Okay. That's fine. Just lie down so you're not aggravating your injuries, all right?"
He pursed his lips, obviously reluctant to make the decision, but he nodded, breathing out a sigh. "Okay."
She put out her hands, helping him ease onto his side, his head settling warm on her thighs. "There," she murmured. "Better?"
Agreement was a faint noise and the smoothing of his features. "Musta looked bad 'f you're letting me do this," he said, lazy amusement in his voice.
Juliet smiled. "Think what you like." Her fingers drifted into his hair, running gently along the ridges of his skull. He let out a breath in a long stream, the remaining tension in his frame slowly leaking out.
His eyes fluttered. "'els good," he mumbled.
"Mm?" she said, feigning ignorance. "Oh. That's nice." She kept pulling her fingers through his hair, stroking behind his ears and along his hairline in long movements. He resisted, eyes fighting to focus on the images playing across the television, but before long his eyes drifted closed and remained that way, his face softening.
Juliet continued carding her fingers through his hair long after he fell asleep, reassuring even his unconscious mind that she was there, looking out for him.
The ending gave me trouble. I can't remember what trouble, but it gave me trouble. And I'm also not particularly hugely fond of anything past where the dialogue starts except the noted bits, and I realize it more and more every time I reread it. Terrible dialogue. But I like the ideas of the fic and the beginning in particular. I think maybe if I had spent more time and had it really hardcore betaed, I may have been able to make it into something even better, but it turned out pretty well anyway, I think. :)
It's especially interesting how this has developed into a series of fics. Usually that doesn't happen for me. I don't think it's ever happened for me. I just don't continue one-shots. But this mood and this situation and this style of writing with the vivid intense descriptions really interested me. It's really been a challenge to maintain the mood of this fic in a relatable way through the others while still pushing the story forward. It's also been interesting trying to piece together what happened while fitting it in to things I've already written. This fic has turned into a really interesting writing exercise and a pretty cool story to boot.
AND NOW I SUDDENLY REALIZE WHY THE END IS SO YUCKY. I RUSHED IT. AFTER SHAWN WOKE UP I LOST SIGHT OF MY GOAL AND I RUSHED THROUGH TO THE EASIEST CONCLUSION AS FAST AS I COULD. THIS EXPLAINS THE LACK OF COMMENTARY THROUGH MOST OF THE CONVERSATIONAL BITS. HOLY WOWZ.
*cough* Uh. Sorry. I've been working on trying to figure out why I dislike things in my fics instead of just disliking them and I recently figured out that one of the common denominators is rushing. I'm always a lot less happy with the results when I rush. And I tend to rush when A) I have some kind of “goal” for the fic (which I usually do) like an image or a scene (Shawn sleeping in this fic) or B) I don't like what I need to write/am not sure what to write. The first is my biggest problem. I'm okay when I'm writing about the bit that I've got specific ideas for, but I get before that or past that and I just start spitting stuff out that's obligatory to get to what I really want to write. Ahdglash;flkadjsklfja WOW.
Okay, I'm really shutting up now.