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Numb3rs fic: Out in the Cold - Light One Candle

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February 27th, 2008


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01:20 pm - Numb3rs fic: Out in the Cold
Look at me, writing more het fic. (Well, sorta. *g*)

Title: Out in the Cold
Pairing/Characters: Larry/Megan
Rating: G
Spoilers: “Mind Games," “Tabu”
Summary: And now he had lost track of Megan, in this house of carven wood and wine-dark wallpaper.
Notes: Written for the numb3rswriteoff challenge; angst; prompt: bitter.

ETA: D'oh! Beta'd by my lovely friend feliciakw, in record time. :-)


Out in the Cold

by izhilzha

~~~~~

She had fled the room without scarf or jacket, and he did the same. No one pursued them, for which Larry was grateful. This would be quite difficult enough without strangers (he chided himself for using such a term of Megan’s family, but it fit well enough) prying and prodding into what was none of their business.

Well, it was their business, but they were making a poor job of it.

And now he had lost track of Megan, in this house of carven wood and wine-dark wallpaper. Larry paused at the intersection of two hallways, recalling the furious stiffness of Megan’s posture, her long stride out the door, of the way she had clutched his arm after ringing the doorbell earlier that evening. “It’s a little...claustrophobic, coming back here, that’s all,” she’d said, and her laugh was short and breathless.

He doubled back on his path, taking a right towards a pair of French windows that opened on a wide patio.

There she was.

Standing straight, not shivering, nor even hunched against the cold, both hands clenched around the frosted black of the wrought-iron railing in front of her. A lamp shone directly overhead, casting halos of light onto her golden-brown hair, warming the shoulders and sleeves of her deep red sweater, and falling into the sparkle of crusted snow on the ground beyond the clean-swept patio.

Larry slid the French window open and stepped out. The wind was pure ice, cutting through all the layers of clothing he had so carefully selected against this brand of New England weather. Megan did not turn to him. Gazing out into the dark, she breathed out and then in, careful and strained. Her hands tightened on the railing, and then released; tightened, and released.

Stepping closer, he could see that her face had paled, nose and ears flushed a raw, wind-scoured pink. Each exhale sent out a swirling cloud of white to billow around her face and catch at her hair. She blinked, but there were no tears, just that steady, almost meditative breathing.

He took another step, alongside her now, his arm nearly brushing hers. If it was not so cold, he would have perhaps said nothing. Waited, instead, for Megan to find her center, to acknowledge his presence in her own time. But her fingernails were white rapidly shading towards blue. He reached out and covered her left hand with his right.

She spoke before he could. “This whole trip was a bad idea.” There were still no tears in her eyes, staring blankly into the evening dark. Nor in her voice: it was a pronouncement, a detached judgment. But her chilled fingers trembled beneath his hand, and Larry felt all her unspoken anger and despair well up in his own throat and eyes.

Megan had spoken so excitedly of this journey. He had thrilled to see the daring and hope in her gaze, in her smile. Had listened to her fret over what to say to her father, over whether he would even be there when she attempted to visit.

Larry had been relieved when the man in question appeared during the first course of the lovely dinner with Megan’s mother and next-eldest sister. But perhaps, after all, it would have been better if her father had kept to their pattern and stayed away.

She could have kept dreaming.

But then, too, one evening could hardly mend more than ten years apart.

He had not planned to say this, to grant any credit to the insensitive clod back in the warm sitting room. “Give him a chance.” Not for him, my sweet one. For you. For the laughter I watched go out in your face tonight, because of one thoughtless word. For the woman you are, whom he does not know, nor know how to approach. “It’s only been one evening.”

She snatched her hand from under his, curling it against her stomach, not looking at him, the rhythm of her breath faltering. “I can’t do this right now,” she said tightly. “I need--I need to be alone for a little while, okay?”

“All right,” he agreed. His hand tingled, wanting hers, wanting her not to turn him away, wishing he had more to offer her in this moment. “Shall I get your coat ? It’s cold–“

“No. No, that’s. . . .” Finally, Megan turned her head to look at him. He thought for a moment she would try to smile, but instead she shrugged. “I’m all right. I’m going to take a walk. As long as I keep moving, I’ll be fine.” She was already moving away from him, from the house, with slow sideways steps.

“Megan--" he began, not know what exactly he would say, but not wanting to see her walk into the dark like this.

“Don’t.” Now there was a edge in her voice, and she turned her face away. Another step, and another. “Not now. If you need to go back to the hotel, go. I’ll call a cab. See you then.” She had picked up her pace.

“I’ll be here,” Larry said. She did not turn nor did she answer him, striding into the dark of the huge yard, low heels crunching in the few inches of snow.

He watched her go and wrapped his arms around himself. The sound of her footsteps died away, leaving only the faint whistle of wind against the branches of bare trees.

The thought of going back into that warm room, of answering questions from overly-inquisitive relations, of telling them that he could not dissuade their daughter (and his girlfriend) from taking a walk in the snow at night, was . . . unwelcome. His coat and hat were there as well, but if she could last a while without them, surely he could also.

He would wait.

~~~~~


This fic was written for the Angst vs Schmoop Challenge at numb3rswriteoff. After you’ve read the fic, please rate it by voting in the poll located here. (Your vote will be anonymous.) Rate the fic on a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being the best) using the following criteria: how well the fic fit the prompt, how angsty the fic was, and how well you enjoyed the fic. When you’re done, please check out the other challenge fic at numb3rswriteoff. Thank you!

(Note: numb3rswriteoff is very slash-friendly. I have, with this fic, participated in one of their very few canon-het challenges. The other entries in this challenge should be safe for you, gen friendslist readers, but caveat lector on the rest of their archives.)
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished

(28 lit candles | Light a candle)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:February 27th, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
But I cannot read! It is Lent!!

Actually...I couldn't read anyway, because spoilers for Season 4. I think. At least, those ep titles don't look familiar.

I guess that's okay, then.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 27th, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC)
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"Mind Games" is actually season 2, but yeah, "Tabu" is late in season 4. Bookmark it! *g*
[User Picture]
From:jelsemium
Date:February 27th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Heh, I knew it wouldn't be easy going up against you. This story makes wonderful use of the characters and the prompts. I was especially impressed with Megan's standing tall and refusing to even acknowledge the cold.

Excellent work!
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 28th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
(Link)
Thank you! That means a good deal, coming from an author whose own entry for this challenge is sweet, well-written, and also makes rich use of the prompt. :-)
[User Picture]
From:jlm110108
Date:February 27th, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, my. You did do a wonderful job conveying the pain and bitterness of Megan's relationship with her parents, as well as Larry's need to do something to fix things.

Jo
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 28th, 2008 01:58 am (UTC)
(Link)
Thank you, thank you! That's exactly what I was aiming for, and I seem to have hit the bull's-eye--always a lovely thing to hear. :-)
[User Picture]
From:rodlox
Date:February 28th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
(Link)
now that is whumping! and hurt/(comfort).

it's a very evoking story...one that sends shivers down my spine - and not just from the feel of the New England weather you describe so well.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 28th, 2008 06:44 am (UTC)
(Link)
now that is whumping!

*g* Why, thank you! I do try. And hey, astonishingly, all this whumping is canon-based. Who knew N3 was so angsty?

I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

(and apropo of nothing but your icon: isn't Eureka a sweet show?)
From:lyraskye14
Date:February 29th, 2008 12:26 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Soooo, I would like it noted that, during the long, miserable writers' strike with no new Numb3rs, I did not come to your blog and sniffle, whine, cry, beg, wail for new stories. Only because you kept talking about how out-of-control busy your life had become. Otherwise, I would surely have sniffled, whined, cried, begged, and wailed. And now, when I had no expectation, this lovely story. Ahhh, bliss!

I have one tiny question -- are you sure you really want to write for TV? I can think of few joys greater than a whole novel of your gorgeous descriptions and profound understanding of character.

Remember the "make my day" awards from a few days back? You have definitely made mine!
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 29th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I would like it noted that, during the long, miserable writers' strike with no new Numb3rs, I did not come to your blog and sniffle, whine, cry, beg, wail for new stories.

*g* It is so noted.

Actually, at some point in the near future, there will be a fic with Megan and Colby--it has been delayed both my RL craziness, and because one of my betas has been SERIOUSLY under the weather.

I have one tiny question -- are you sure you really want to write for TV? I can think of few joys greater than a whole novel of your gorgeous descriptions and profound understanding of character.

Wow.

Just...wow. I'm blushing right now, and very moved. And while I am pretty sure about wanting to write for TV, I also harbor hopes of writing novels someday. I do love working in prose form. Thank you so much for the kind words! You're making *my* day, right now. :-)
[User Picture]
From:irena_adler
Date:February 29th, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Very vivid and evocative description of her standing at the railing, saying so much without any words.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 29th, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Thank you! I'm happy it worked for you--I was a little nervous about not having put in many clues as to exactly why Megan is so upset.
[User Picture]
From:spikedluv
Date:March 1st, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I felt so bad for Megan, that her trip home didn't live up to her expectations, and for Larry, for not being able to help her.

The other entries in this challenge should be safe for you, gen friendslist readers, but caveat lector on the rest of their archives.

Actually, out of the 6 rounds we've had so far, 4 of them have been (or included the option of) Het. *g*
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:March 1st, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Well--not to kill my own angst--but I assume (from her and Larry's attitudes on the show in later episodes) that the trip did get better from there. *g* But I'm very glad you felt their frustration.

Heh. I'm a picky one--I don't even usually write het, and the only OTP I've ever had in any fandom is Larry/Megan. I'm far more interested in writing gen, usually, and I don't read or write slash at all (especially not incest, which hits every single DO NOT WANT button I've got). So I might feel it wasn't fair to the other participants to join in a slash-or-het challenge, because I wouldn't want to read the slash submissions.

However, I would certainly be open to het-only or gen challenges. I'll probably keep the group, and watch it.
[User Picture]
From:valeriev84
Date:March 1st, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
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Wow, this was gorgeous. I loved how you drew on all that we've learned of Megan's past and tied it all together so beautifully. Your descriptions are also terrific.

I'm glad you joined this round. Will you be participating in other rounds?
[User Picture]
From:valeriev84
Date:March 1st, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, I just noticed your little comment on Numb3rs Write Off at the bottom of your entry. Although it is very slash friendly, there have been ample het opportunities. I have participated in three previous rounds with het fics. Namely the Coop het/slash round, the Edgerton het/slash round and rare het pairing round (ie. anything but Charlie/Amita & Larry/Megan). So that's 4 out of 6 rounds in which the author could have written het. There is also talk of a gen round soon.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:March 1st, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed it--I've been wanting to write something touching on Megan's past for a while, and this may have only been a little bit, but I had fun putting it together.

I may participate in other rounds; see my reply to spikedluv's comment for what I like and don't like. Gen rounds or het-only might pull me in. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on this community.
[User Picture]
From:valeriev84
Date:March 2nd, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, I see. Personally I just don't read the fics that have pairings I can't see happening. This round was rare in that I read everything posted. I think there has only been one other round like that.
[User Picture]
From:mistraltoes
Date:March 2nd, 2008 07:28 am (UTC)
(Link)
Well, that was worth the time to read it. :) I particularly like the way you evoked the house using so few descriptors. And this bit:

He had not planned to say this, to grant any credit to the insensitive clod back in the warm sitting room. “Give him a chance.” Not for him, my sweet one. For you. For the laughter I watched go out in your face tonight, because of one thoughtless word. For the woman you are, whom he does not know, nor know how to approach. “It’s only been one evening.”


Also, I like the way that it leaves me wanting to know what happens next. Rather like a good fandom should do. :)
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:March 3rd, 2008 05:48 am (UTC)
(Link)
Thank you!

I particularly like the way you evoked the house using so few descriptors.

Oh, good; I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time to work on this story, so I made it my goal to keep it as short and clean as I could without skimping on what I wanted to do with it.

I take it the bit you quoted did sound enough like Larry? I'm so nervous about getting his voice right, and technically this is the first time I've written anything (postable) in his pov.

Also, I like the way that it leaves me wanting to know what happens next.

I could tell you what I *think* happens next, but I keep wondering if canon is going to give us more about this visit. I dunno. I may have to write a follow-up fic at some point.
[User Picture]
From:mistraltoes
Date:March 10th, 2008 03:24 am (UTC)
(Link)
I take it the bit you quoted did sound enough like Larry? I'm so nervous about getting his voice right, and technically this is the first time I've written anything (postable) in his pov.

It did indeed sound like Larry; not precisely the way he speaks, but the way I would expect him to think. None of us speak to others exactly the way we speak to ourselves, so I sometimes find internal monologue quite difficult to write, or to believe when others write it. This section really worked for me.

[Also, I like the way that it leaves me wanting to know what happens next.]

I could tell you what I *think* happens next, but I keep wondering if canon is going to give us more about this visit. I dunno. I may have to write a follow-up fic at some point.


Never let it be said that I discouraged fic. :) But my point was that I think leaving the audience wanting more is a good thing! Stop before you run out of things to say, as it were. Though I'm sure that when you have something else ready to say re Megan/Larry, it will be worth reading.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:March 10th, 2008 06:06 am (UTC)
(Link)
None of us speak to others exactly the way we speak to ourselves, so I sometimes find internal monologue quite difficult to write, or to believe when others write it. This section really worked for me.

Ah, I know what you mean! Thank you, I'm glad that worked.

But my point was that I think leaving the audience wanting more is a good thing! Stop before you run out of things to say, as it were.

Hee! I promise, I won't write a sequel unless I do indeed have more to say about Megan/Larry, in this context. (I was directly asked for sequel by someone on ff.net, which amused me.)
[User Picture]
From:mistraltoes
Date:March 12th, 2008 06:42 am (UTC)
(Link)
Hey, I wasn't trying to discourage a sequel! But one of your strengths is in what you leave out. Keep doing it. :)
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:March 12th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
(Link)
But one of your strengths is in what you leave out.

That's really kind of awesome to hear, since so much of my writing process seems to be "find what the character is focusing on and don't worry about the rest."
[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:November 20th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh, poor Megan! *clings* And Larry being so understanding and so awesome. What I love about this pairing is how genuinely adult the both are. Megan doesn't try to pretend she's fine but she doesn't rail and rant or wibble, either. Because she's Megan and she kicks ass. And she knows herself and knows Larry well enough to just say "Don't" when she doesn't want to be comforted or advised.

I hope that when they got back to the hotel or once they got home to CA there were hearts and flowers and cuddling, though. Because dude. Ouch.

(Larry is going to wait out in the cold for her because she doesn't have a jacket so why should he need one?? Larry!! How are you the most awesome boyfriend ever??)
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:November 20th, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
What I love about this pairing is how genuinely adult the both are.

Me too. They're grownups and behave like it, even when they're all giggly over each other (as in the diner scene in "Spree").

I hope that when they got back to the hotel or once they got home to CA there were hearts and flowers and cuddling, though.

I think there were. I think they were both in need of warming up after this, and once Megan got over her need to process alone, she would be fine with some serious cuddling. :)

I want Larry to be my boyfriend.
[User Picture]
From:astrogirl2
Date:January 4th, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Just saw this on your end-of-the-year list and went, "Hey, I've seen S4 now! I can read that!" and did. :) And, aww. That's a nice little slice of their relationship, and the voice does feel like Larry, particularly in certain specific word choices. :)
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:January 4th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
(Link)
That's right, you couldn't read this when I posted it! :-)

I'm glad you feel that the voice is Larry's, because I wrote this much faster than I normally would, and wasn't sure I'd gotten it right. I did have fun puzzling out this scene--we do see them dealing with angsty stuff in canon, but not a lot and not quite like this (normally Larry seems to be able to get through to Megan regardless of the situation--see "Tabu" for proof).

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