[personal profile] lettersforblood
This is set in the 'verse of my story "Pantheon". Prompt is from [community profile] parthenon.


Julie was practically overflowing with joy when she walked through the door. “So,” she asked Nick, tossing her coat over the back of the nearest chair and plopping down on the couch by his feet, “how was your day?”

Nick raised an eyebrow but didn’t open his eyes. There were certain rules in their house. One of them was “Don’t ask Nick how his day was, especially when it started out so bad he had you call in for him to tell them he couldn’t come to work.”

“Great,” he said sarcastically. “Got a lot better after the third time I tried to leave the room and couldn’t figure out which door was real.”

Julie deflated. He could tell without opening his eyes that he’d hurt her feelings, by the way the couch dipped as she sagged. She seemed to have mastered the art of getting heavier without actually gaining weight. How she did it, he would never understand. “I’m sorry, Nicky. I should have stayed here to help.”

“No, you shouldn’t have.” He reached out toward her, still not trusting himself to open his eyes. “You like school. You’re getting somewhere. I don’t want to keep you from getting there.”
Julie grasped his hand and held it to her face, pulling him to a half-sitting position to do it. “Will you look at me, Nicky?”

He shook his head.

She sighed. “But I’m giving you the most adorable puppy eyes!” she said teasingly.

He laughed. He couldn’t help it. “Okay, I’ll bite. How was your day, Julie?”

He felt a kiss on his lips, so light he might have imagined it, before she released his hand and he fell back. “It was amazing! Okay, so you know how I’m taking that class on poetry.”

“Of course. How could I not? You’ve only talked about it once a second since you signed up for it.”

“Well, one of the things we’ve been talking about is epic poetry, and the conventions and stuff. And it’s so cool.”

He made a face. “It’s… cool to learn about how no one was actually being creative?” He flinched as she smacked the top of his head. “No fair! I’m blind right now, I can’t dodge!”

“Bite me. Anyway, there were all these conventions, and you don’t notice them, but they’re like, catalogues—”

“Do you have to pay for the subscription?” That earned him another smack on the head.

Lists, Nicky. I’m talking about lists. And epic digressions—you know, when you go off in the middle of the story and tell a whole different story?—and appeals to the muse, and invocations of the gods—”

“Bet they liked that,” Nick interrupted again. “All those prayers that weren’t actually prayers, filling their heads when they had other things they could be doing.”

“You kind of worry me when you talk like that, you know?”

“Like what?” he asked, but he already knew.

“Like the gods are real.”

He would have looked away if he’d had his eyes open. Instead he scowled and shrugged. “You know I don’t mean it.”

She ran a forefinger down the side of his face. “Yeah, I know.” Then she brightened, suddenly back on topic. “And starting in media res. That’s a big one.”

“Jules, I don’t speak Latin,” Nick complained.

He could practically hear her rolling her eyes. “No one speaks Latin, Nicky, that’s why it’s a dead language. It means ‘in the middle of things’.”

Nick snorted. “In the middle of things?”


“Seriously? That’s a whatever-you-called it—a convention of epic poetry?” He snickered.

“An epic convention, yes. Why are you laughing, Nick?”

And now he really was laughing. “Jules, everything is in the middle of something.” He waved his hands, smacking one of them into the back of the couch since he still hadn’t opened his eyes. “Everything is in between something and something is in between everything. And since ‘in between’ can always be substituted for ‘in the middle’, even if it doesn’t go the other way around, every story starts ‘in the middle of things’. That’s not exactly a unique convention.”

“Oh, come on, Nick.” Julie poked his nose. “Not every story starts in the middle of things. Most of them don’t.”

Nick pretended to think about that, still laughing. “No, I’m pretty sure they do.”

“Some of them don’t even start with the story!” He heard the swish of her jeans and the squeak of her too-new shoes. “They start with random information and internal monologuing. How can they start ‘in the middle of things’?”

“They all start with the story, sweetie, that’s why it’s called a story.” He was laughing harder as she got more and more frustrated.

“And if they go back to the beginning?”

“Like what? Name one story that actually starts at the beginning.”

She barely hesitated. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

“Oh, come on,” he waved a hand. His laughter was starting to quiet. “You’re not even trying. J.K. Rowling didn’t start with Voldemort’s defeat, which was caused Pettigrew betraying the Potters, which was only because of Harry’s birth, and more directly because of the prophecy—and really, you could argue that the story started way back in Slytherin’s time, since he was Voldemort’s inspiration. Really, Jules? Is that the best you have?”

Pride and Prejudice.

It is very difficult to glare at someone with your eyes closed, but Nick managed. His laughter was abruptly as dead as if she’d slit its throat instead of mentioning a classic book. “You just think I haven’t read that, don’t you? Unfortunately for you, it was required reading my junior year of high school. And my parents practically stood over me and breathed down my neck to make sure I actually did the reading. And no, that starts in the middle of things to. It starts with Bingley’s arrival. Not with his meeting Mr. Darcy, or Darcy meeting Wickham, or Bingley buying the house—all of which are essential to the story.”

He could hear the sound of the air whooshing by Julie’s arms as she threw them up in exasperation. “Stories have to have something before they happened,” she protested. “Otherwise there’s nothing for the reader to discover about the characters.”

“Exactly right. And this is why every story starts in the middle of things.” He considered a moment. “And why they all end there.”

(no subject)

Date: 2010-04-23 12:27 am (UTC)
sharpest_asp: a pen laying on a top spiral notebook (General: Pen and Paper)
From: [personal profile] sharpest_asp

Nick has a fine point. And I love how you told this one.



January 2013

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