Title: The Adventure of the Photographer's Studio
Fandom/Original: Sherlock BBC
Word or Line count: 558
Summary: John helps Sherlock 'borrow' some photos for a client; the effort sparks a few memories.
Warnings: Passing mention of coercion.
John closes the door to the studio, leaving Sherlock to distract the (very male, very gay, very happy to have Sherlock’s attentions) clerk. The room is hushed, soundproofed, the only noises the faint hum of the A/C and the sweep of the curtain as John moves past.
It’s a beautiful set up, a white corner light from above, the only contrast the slightly ridiculous umbrella lights, a delicate wire stool and some other type of light fixture on a stand were between them.
John’s been to a place like this exactly twice. Once for a family photo right before Dad passed. Everyone had hated it, even Mum, who’d been the one to insist. The second time, well, he’d been there as moral support for the loser of a bet. Watching Jenkins get professional photos in skimpy lingerie was a memory that still made him stifle a giggle. The man should’ve known better than to bet against the best sniper in the camp.
There’s a stand for a camera on the wood floor rising above the curving tile and concrete of the rest, a computer open on it, faint light radiating. John moves toward it to see what, if any photos are on display.
Their client’s face is immediately visible, lips curved in a mischievous smirk, her dark bouffant of curls only strengthening that impression. The photo is open in an editing program. The background is different from what is currently set up: puffy gold fabric, obviously taken elsewhere. Her red dress is cut in a eye-catching vee that doesn’t actually reveal anything, square toggles holding the fabric together. Her arms sketch an open angle from chin to her modest bosom.
But really, it’s the eyes that catch John’s eye. Last he’d seen her, she’d been worried and tired, dark circles starting to show, hair pinned back hastily. He clicks through the list of photos, each set revealing more and more skin, her expression growing more and more shuttered. Definitely what they are looking for.
He closes the machine and takes it off the stand. A hasty search yields no cameras, but from what the clerk had said, the only copies will be here and in the email account of their suspect. John trusts Sherlock will be able to figure out the mechanical aspects, but he hopes nothing is online. The internet is forever, indeed.
Shoving the computer in a bag, John takes a breath before he heads to the door. Time to go. He slips out slowly, giving Sherlock time to spot him and up his chatter if necessary.
They manage it, the clerk rapt in his flirtatious attentions. As John approaches, Sherlock’s eyes flick to his. John nods, a small subtle gesture, and Sherlock wraps up, handing the young man a card, leaning in a bit too close.
“Time to go, darling,” John says, just to see the looks it produces. The clerk looks rapidly between them, hand moving to hide the card. Sherlock smirks, directing it at the clerk. “Perhaps I’ll see you later?”
John rolls his eyes, grabs Sherlock’s arm, and pulls him away, not acknowledging the object of his ‘boyfriend’s’ attentions.
Once outside, John sends a speculative look Sherlock’s way. “I expected you to dump him, is he...interesting?”
“He has connections, and we might be back. Cover, John. It’s important.”
Word or Line count: 501
Summary: One experience, one person, one point of view. One band, one audience, one concert.
“And then we will DIE…!” The singer finished her note (and scream), head banging as the guitars and drums took over.
The crowd surged, mostly in time to the music. The energy of the band and the concert-goers, all participating in this ritual of sound and movement, was almost palpable. The scent of sweat, dark cigarette smoke with hints of sweet marijuana lingered, combined with the closeness of the people crowded shoulder to shoulder to create the unmistakable experience that was a live performance.
Sometimes the movement felt random, someone pushing through the crowd towards or away from the stage, on a singular mission. Sometimes it was a concerted effort: a wave, one person sparking a movement far greater than themselves.
A blond-haired person in a leather jacket jumped, moving in time with the beat, medium length hair flying as the people around him paid little attention, bar a few who watched with blank, worried eyes. They landed and jumped, again and again, the sound of their voice subsumed under the roar of the crowd, the wall of noise that the speakers created. Their lips moved, though, shaping every word with obsessive fervor.
It was a good place to be a fanatic. The right time, the right song. Eventually, tired from their exertion, the blonde jumped one last time, pitching forward into waiting hands. They surfed, a beatific expression on their face as they traveled towards the stage in a wandering, indirect fashion, the hands under them beyond knowledge of where they’d go next.
They landed a mere three people away from the edge, the singer dancing athletically as she crooned harsh lullabies into the microphone. The movement sparked the blond fan back into motion, feet and arms coordinating in a dance that encouraged, nearly egged her on. Noticing the new arrival, the singer smiled, never missing a note. They soared on the energy of people, of the place, together, united in song.
The beat changed, eventually, slowing to a soft lullaby, a whispered list of the pains love causes. Hair swung back and forth, a pendulum led by a body, shaken by the steps of the booted feet below it. There was time to for a drink, to let the sweat cool, before another song began. The singer calls out, naming herself, her bandmates, the band. She thanks the crowd for their attendance, enthusiasm, money, and the listeners (participants) scream themselves hoarse, hands clapping to the point of pain. One last song, upbeat, and they cede the stage to another band, the main attraction.
The blonde haired, leather jacketed fan drifts away after that, not particularly interested in this new genre. He follows the singer’s mates to their table, where bright conversations are being held, voices straining to be heard above the noise from the speakers. Money changes hands, and CDs, shirts, posters are the rewards. The smiles of the band seem to mean more to the buyers, though. They depart, promising to return. No longer concerted, but still together.
Word or Line count: 501
Summary: An experimental point of view. Bears can swim, so can humans.
The water is so cold there’s no word for it. It sheets over the skin like fluid ice, freezing from the outside in.
Or it would, if I were human. I’d drown, system locked up, shocked and then frozen to stillness. Preserved to perhaps be found by others someday. Or maybe a predator would nibble away at me until I was gone, no skin, just bones... A motionless example of what not to do to survive.
But I am not human (maybe I was once). In this day, this age, I am a bear. My skin is covered by hollow, air-filled fur, insulation of the best kind “mother nature” provides, through the stumbling, random progress of evolution.
I push through the water, claws catching on bits of ice that float on the top, slicing uselessly through liquid. The pads of my paws barely feel the cold, used to it. I huff, heading for “shore”, more ice. The prey is gone for today. I will return tomorrow for another attempt at food, protein, survival. Tonight I go, mouth and stomach empty of sustenance, back to where I shelter. I am lucky that no cubs depend on me for their own survival. It’s happened before. Thankfully, most have survived.
My claws dig into the almost sheer face of the iceberg, giving me friction, traction, a “handhold”: leverage to haul myself out of the frigid water. I shake, the water splattering in all directions, just another layer of ice soon. But it goes away from me, that’s the important part.
The ice crunches under my paws. I walk, lumber, crawl at a steady pace, ice extending into snow into more ice, the only way to mark your place is scent and memory. It’s nothing unusual, if you grow up in it, but deadly and confusing for those from warmer climes.
I see them, sometimes, usually in the distance. Strange, small not-bears. They wear the skins of other animals, or of no animal, it’s sometimes hard to tell by smell. I’m certainly not getting near them. They leave me alone, and that’s fine by me. Although sometimes I do wonder what in skies they are doing with their strange dark rocks. They smell strange. They have weird food too, don’t ask how I know.
I arrive back at my den, and dig in, readying myself for another night. The ice insulates almost as well as my fur, used properly.
They watch seals too, I’ve seen. They hurt but don’t kill the ones they get close to, attaching more, different not-rocks to their hide. The smell of blood is tempting, but I am often full, returning to my den.
The not-bears get closer every time I sleep, don’t think I don’t notice. I’m not sure of their intentions. They don’t smell of my kind, they don’t eat us/me. Their wide eyes, their whirring buzzing not-rocks...they want something. I don’t know what, and I don’t care, as long as they stay away.
But they don’t.
Title: Indoor Voices
Word or Line count: 549
Summary: Experimental viewpoint switching. An office is never less than one person.
“And of course we’ll cover you for the entire term as laid out in the contract…” John checks his partner’s progress at the printer with brief glance, still several pages left. “Do you have any concerns I can address? Any questions? We pride ourselves on customer service here. No man or woman left behind.” He grins at his own joke.
The lady across from him smiles politely in response. “I’m glad to hear that. The last place we tried to contract out to wasn’t nearly as hands on. I have to say, I prefer the personal touch.”
“As do I, as do I… Ah, Lydia, thank you.” John accepted the papers from his colleague. Lydia smiled, nodded to both of them, and headed back to her cubicle.
Lydia managed to hold her expression fixed until she’d turned her back on John and the customer he was schmoozing at. Good god, what a prick. Lydia was heartily glad she wasn’t in the woman’s place. John would be asking her out within the hour, Lydia was sure.
Why she’d taken this job (and been reduced to copying papers for someone not even in her part of the office, good lord) was one of the bigger mysteries of her life. Thank god she had a few sheafs to staple. It wasn’t good for much else but getting the anger out, but Lydia had plenty of that. She managed a tight grin of anticipation as she passed through the open blue doors back to her area, hopefully fooling the new guy on the phone in the corner.
“Okay, I turned it on again...oh, it’s fixed!”
“That’s excellent news, sir, is there anything else?” The ‘you utter idiot, please let me get back to my real job’ was implied, Jose was sure.
“Oh no, er, thanks. Sorry, it’s my first week.” Jose turned in his chair, casually checking to see if anyone was watching. No, no, and no. Praise Mary.
“Have a nice day.” The phone clicked with the gentle but very final hangup on the other end of the line. Jose felt his face compress in a parody of a smile, an automatic reaction to humiliation.
A more unfamiliar lady than usual walked past, heading to the door, done with her copying. Apparently John (or was it James?) had sweet-talked her into helping him. Jose needed to figure out how he did that, it seemed like a helpful skill to have. Weirdly, even with John pushing his more boring tasks on other people, everyone seemed to actually do work here. Karen was also on the phone, papers in hand. She shared an office with Melinda, who seemed forever pissed off about something. He swivelled back to his computer; might as well do his best to fit in.
“We’ve got several more problems to get to after this, can we please just write down our current fixes and move on?”
Melinda tried her best to ignore the content, if not the actual sounds of Karen’s conversation. Why the powers that be had deigned to put them in an office together, Melinda would never know. She huffed and rearranged her papers again, trying to make them make sense. Someone was definitely missing something here, and it might be her. God, she hated HR work.