I've had a long and checkered history as an obsessed fangirl.
How did I come to think about this? Well, last night, HobsonphileBro (who is currently sans computer thanks to, we think, a motherboard meltdown) and I decided to alleviate HobsonphileBro's boredom by watching an episode of Early Edition on PAX. A few years ago, Early Edition was my obsession du jour. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for gentle, funny, good-natured programs and EE was truly the sweetest little program I ever did see. I wanted to put all the show's characters- especially Gary Hobson, played by the adorable and talented Kyle Chandler- on a shelf and fawn endlessly over their cuteness. So enamored was I of the program that I created a website in its honor, adopted a screen name based on Gary Hobson, and wrote a few short stories and several unfinished longer works. This is the kind of stuff I was writing a few years ago:
In His Own Time
Marissa sat in the back seat of Erica's car and listened to the hum of the engine in reflective silence. The deep, regular sound of Gary's breathing beside her indicated that he had finally fallen into a peaceful sleep for the first time in days. She reached out and lightly touched the butterfly suture on Gary's forehead- her fingers then sought out his hand, clutching it gently in her palm. The warmth she found there reassured her that Gary was alive, that he had made it through this, and that he was going to be okay.
The car pulled to a stop. "We're here," Erica announced from the front seat.
Marissa squeezed Gary's arm and he stirred, mumbling, "Hmm..wha?"
"We're here," Marissa quietly repeated. She heard the car door open and then Gary's leather jacket creak as he shifted position and climbed out of the vehicle. After a pause, the door beside her opened and she felt Gary's hand brush up against her own arm, offering her assistance. Taking hold of her friend's elbow, she allowed herself to be led into McGinty's, hearing Erica's footfalls behind her.
When they got inside, there was an awkward pause. "Will you be alright here tonight, Gary?" Erica asked, her voice troubled.
"Yeah, I think so," Gary replied softly.
Marissa was reluctant to let go of Gary's arm. Tonight she almost lost her cherished friend to his own guilt, his own pain. She had always known how big Gary's heart was, and how impossibly high his expectations were of his ability to make things right. But ever since the boiler explosion- ever since that man slipped from Gary's grasp- she had become even more acutely aware of how vulnerable he was.
And how special. He got the paper because he was special, not the other way around. Marissa had always assured Gary of this fact whenever he suffered from his own self doubt, and now she truly, deeply believed it with all her heart. If Gary had died in that collapse- if the rescue squad had given up- the world would've been a lesser place without him.
"Are you sure?" Marissa asked, still holding Gary's elbow. For what seemed like the fiftieth time, her eyes welled with tears at the memory of the sound of Gary's voice as he told them about his obituary- haunted and ready to pay retribution for his failure. And then she felt Gary's arms around her, hugging her tightly.
Beside her left ear, Marissa heard Gary's subtle twang. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry?" Marissa pulled away from the embrace, a quizzical look on her face. "For what?" "I haven't exactly been the best person to be around lately. And..." There was a small pause. "And the last thing I wanted to do was to hurt you."
The threatening tears spilled from Marissa's eyes as once again a feeling of wonder at Gary's selflessness overwhelmed her. At a time when he needed comfort most of all, this man... this soul that stood before her was offering comfort to someone else. Marissa reached out and cupped Gary's face in her hands, then pulled him back into an embrace. You are good enough, Gary. Just as you are- right now. She wanted to tell him how extraordinary he truly was, paper or no paper, but the words didn't come. Instead, she simply held him, and let her actions speak for themselves.
Erica felt decidedly ill at ease watching the two friends wrap their arms around each other- watching Gary squeeze his eyes shut and bury his face into Marissa's shoulder. The love and affection between Gary and Marissa made her feel like a third wheel. Her own relationship with Gary had yet to develop that depth of compassion and trust.
Not for the first time, Erica began to doubt whether she was the right woman for Gary. His total dedication to the paper- something Marissa often took in stride- was difficult for her to understand. And his willingness to put his own life on the line when the paper required it truly frightened her. As she watched the rescue squad try to extricate Gary from the ruins of that abandoned store, her heart had leapt up into her throat at the prospect of losing him.
She needed somebody who would be there for her- and for Henry- no matter what. Thinking back to the small, scapegoat smile on Gary's face when she demanded to know why he had gone to the carpet store that afternoon, Erica seriously questioned Gary's ability to support her own emotional needs.
Erica needed to talk to Gary about this, and soon. But not right now- not when tears still glittered under Gary's closed eyelids.
After several moments, Gary finally pulled away, still holding Marissa's hand. "I don't want you to worry about me tonight," he murmured, squeezing her fingers lightly in reassurance. "I'll be fine." And Marissa believed him this time. There was something different in his voice- something that suggested he was beginning to make peace with himself. No longer were his words laced with guilt and morbid resignation. She let go of her friend at last and listened as he exited the bar and climbed the stairs to his loft.
Erica came up behind her, some measure of discomfort in her tone. "Come on, I'll take you home."
Marissa walked with Erica back to the car and climbed into the front seat. The drive to her place was once again silent, each woman lost in her own thoughts. Above all, Marissa wondered what had happened to Gary in that carpet store- how did he find his way back to life and his friends?
Perhaps she would ask him about it someday. But not for awhile- she had pushed him enough already. Someday, Gary would tell her... in his own time.
Hee. It's an interesting exercise to search through old files and follow my history as a writer. It's unfortunate that my own files only go as far back as EE, because I clearly remember writing stories in various fandoms far earlier than that. Was I writing stories even as a Mathnet fan in late elementary/early middle school? Oh, yes. *g* I also recall writing DS9 and Chicago Hope Mary Sues as a teenager- perhaps I should be grateful that those stories have fallen victim to corrupted hard drives. *g*
What a strange collection of shows: Mathnet, Trek, St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope, Touched by an Angel, and EE... and after that, Boston Public, my most recent fandom before my current B5 kick. I was a BNF in the small Boston Public fandom, the most famous booster for Vice Principal Scott Guber and webmaster of the Guberfic archive. Unfortunately, that fandom lost me the night they had the classical-music-loving Scott embracing rap. The last story I completed for that fandom was a missing scene from third season's Chapter 59:
Steven heard it even before he stepped into the building. Over the whistle of the unseasonably polar wind, a strain of strident classical music shattered the peace of the early morning. The source of the music was a sure bet- as was the mood of its listener- and the very thought led Steven to release a sigh of world-weariness.
Once inside, Steven unwrapped the scarf on his neck and pulled off his gloves, stuffing them into his pockets. Rubbing his hands together briskly to restore feeling in his frozen fingers, he walked towards the main office. There, the music was loud enough to vibrate through the floor beneath Steven's feet. It was with no small amount of trepidation that he approached the office of his second-in-command and opened the door.
With the clamor, Steven's entrance never registered with Scott. For a long moment, Steven, uncertain how to begin the necessary discussion, watched Scott conduct with fascination. Steven recognized the piece as the one Scott conducted with the Pops a few years before. Then, Scott had led the orchestra with a mixture of grace and passion, his previous self-doubt ultimately forgotten. Now, however, Scott's knuckles were white, and the baton slashed through the air in furious jerks. Steven once again marveled at just how much fire crackled below Scott's surface- something that Steven was sure Scott would go to his death refusing to admit.
When the music hit a quieter phase, Steven made his presence known by vigorously knocking his fist against the door. "Scott! A little loud!" he boomed over the din. Startling, Scott spun, catching Steven's eye, then rushed to shut off the stereo, dropping his baton on the desk.
Scott sat down and began going through the papers on his desk, his mouth a thin line. If it was possible, the extended silence that followed Scott's terse acknowledgement was even louder than the Dvorak. Steven finally reached the end of his endurance.
"Alright, you know what?" Scott eyed Steven as Steven aggressively pulled out a chair and took a seat. "I'm sick of this. Sick and d*mn tired of you giving me the silent treatment the past few days. So let's have it out now- let's put all our cards out on the table and move the h*ll on."
Steven wasn't sure how exactly he expected Scott to react. But Scott's next words were an utter surprise.
"Why don't you trust me?" The question was quiet, uttered with suppressed emotion and faint accusation.
Steven shook his head, unsure if he had heard correctly.
"Are you unsatisfied with the quality of my work?"
"Or, do you think I'm somehow unstable- a loose cannon? You said as much a few days ago. Something about my always being angry and never being in control..."
"Though how you can possibly believe that *Marla* is an appropriate counterbalance is a mystery to me..."
"Scott, d*mn it, stop!" Scott closed his mouth and glared. "This is *not* about you. How many times do I have to say this before you'll understand. This is about *us*. Mr. Fields is right- we are spread too thin in this office. Please, just drop the paranoia for a second and think..." Scott stood, opened a cabinet drawer, and began roughly sorting through his files, studiously avoiding Steven's gaze. Steven's voice softened. "Scott, I love ya- I do. Please take what I'm about to say as something said in the spirit of friendship. I think you've taken on too much here." Scott paused and looked down at his hands. "The Gay-Straight Alliance, the Entrepreneur's Club, the Debate Team- you're here from six a.m. to ten at night some days. What I said the other day about your anger- I didn't mean that I thought you were unstable or untrustworthy. But I wouldn't be much of a friend if I didn't tell you that you've been *a lot* shorter with people these days, and *a lot* quicker to take things personally- it's like you never wind down. You think I don't notice how many times you ask Marcie for antacids in a day? I don't know if you're trying to atone for the riot or if you're trying to prove something else, but you have to *relax*."
A long moment passed as Steven waited for Scott to respond. When no response was forthcoming, he continued. "I told Mr. Fields, as I've told anyone who's asked, that you are one of the best educators I've worked with. You're dedicated, you're thorough, you're..."
"...a good disciplinarian," Scott spat bitterly. "I believe Mr. Fields said something to that effect."
Steven was taken aback by his friend's tone. "Yes, he did. How did you..."
Scott faced Steven once more, his jaw set. "The walls are not soundproof."
"Mr. Fields certainly didn't intend that to be an insult."
"And I suppose 'Napoleon complex' was a similarly well intentioned phrase?"
"He also said that he liked you."
The reminder fell on deaf ears. "That's all you see in me, isn't it? The disciplinarian. The enforcer. The one note tune."
"That's not true."
"Steven, a school is not supposed to be a democracy. Perhaps you have lost sight of that fact, but I have not. I warned you last year that our teachers needed guidance, but the *students* need it even more." Scott pounded his fist into his palm. "I have told you from day one that this business of student empowerment- increasing electives, reducing the core, relaxing on the discipline- is ill-conceived. We must find a way to be receptive to student needs without letting the inmates run the asylum. For God's sake, our closed-circuit television station has become a virtual soft-core pornography station because Danny Hanson won't *lead*."
Steven bristled. "You think I don't encourage people to take charge here?"
"I think you sometimes sacrifice order for popularity, yes."
"Oh, this again." Steven stood and threw up his hands, thundering sarcastically, "Poor Scott Guber- the martyr for discipline and order! You know, Scott, it's not as if you've worked all that hard on improving your image. That riot? Your little speech about the importance of being feared? Let's just say they weren't exactly shining moments." Steven knew it was inappropriate the moment he said it, but Scott was equally over the line and it was too late to change course.
Scott approached Steven until he was inches from the larger man's chest, his fists opening and closing. Steven winced slightly at the strength of the guilt, hurt, and anger that flashed in Scott's blue eyes, and wondered fleetingly if Scott would actually have the nerve to hit him. Steven felt like throttling Scott himself, and a small part of him wished Scott *would* take a swing at him, just for the satisfaction of hitting back.
That opportunity didn't present itself, however- Steven could almost see Scott drawing the professional line in his mind. After a tense moment, Scott drew a sharp breath and looked down. When Scott spoke, his words were soft but intense. "I play those days over and over again in my mind every night, Steven. I am well aware of *every* mistake I've made. I don't need you to remind me."
Steven sighed. "I know. I'm sorry."
Scott met Steven's eyes, and Steven noticed a muscle fluttering in Scott's chin. "I've been teaching for over twenty years. My students succeed because I expect more from them. The disciplinarian is only *part* of who I am. I care just as much for the students at Winslow as you and everyone else here. But it has always been my firm belief that you cannot coddle students and be truly compassionate. I'm sorry you can't understand that. I'm sorry you can't understand me."
Scott pushed past Steven and picked up his radio. He was almost out the door when Steven stopped him with his hand. "Scott, wait." Scott didn't turn, but he did stop. "I *know* you care. I see it everyday. And I *do* trust you, even if I think another body in the main office would be a help. But if you don't have confidence in your own abilities, Scott, then it does little good for me to tell you that I have faith in you. I don't know what the h*ll is going on in that mind of yours that makes you think I don't truly believe in you, but whatever it is, I need you to work it out. Soon. Because I need you as a cooperative member of my team."
Scott gently pulled himself free of Steven's grasp and disappeared into the hallway. Steven blew out a frustrated breath and slammed his hand against the door jam.
An odd history indeed. *g*