Title: Both Sides Now

Author: [livejournal.com profile] fourzoas

Characters: Matt Devlin, James Steel

Setting/Spoilers: Midway through Law & Order | UK 1.07 (“Alesha”)

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: The show and characters belong to ITV; I’m just borrowing them.


A/N: Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] persiflage_1 for beta, Brit-pick, and suggestions.



###


An infant lovingly lain in a duffel bag.

A man’s mutilated corpse.

Seventeen bodies covered with sheets.

One of them is always first to the scene, the other always there at the last. They’re used to the handoff in the middle, the moment when the first submits the horror for judgment, when the last discovers some fresh human hell. The separation allows them some semblance of order, but this time the center stretches and bleeds across established boundaries.

Every victim haunts them, but this one walks among them, breathes their air.


###


He doesn’t watch this time. He just listens, his eyes trained on the city outside, the city below. How many times has he watched a recorded crime, how many hours of CCTV footage to find that one bit of evidence that might give someone some peace someday? How is it that he can’t watch this one?

It’s not the same when the victim on the screen is the object of your—Matt’s not certain what she is to him, exactly. Ronnie was right to call them mates, but Matt knows he’s wanted something more from her for a long, long time.

Still wants, he corrects himself, and he’ll never be able to help her toward the future with his mind trapped in the past. He knows that if he turns around, if he doesn’t look ahead and forward, that he’ll dissolve into dust. So he listens, hoping that time will help the image in his mind disintegrate, that by not feeding that memory he’ll find a way to lead her away from it when she’s ready.

One viewing was more than enough.


###


He has to watch. He resigns himself to the understanding that he’ll be watching this tape several times over again. To make this work in court—if Merrick pushes it that far—he’ll need to be the barrister who can watch her violation without breaching the security of the defendant’s dock.

He has to watch because he claimed he was as angry as she was. As soon as he’d said it, he knew there was no way he ever could be.

He needs to watch because she’s not going to be able to watch it for him this time. This time he has to find his heart on his own.

James sees how alone she is in that defiled room, the room he fears has sterilized their potential future. If he’s going to lead her out of this hell when all is done, he has to descend to find her there.


###


Of course, neither thinks that perhaps she can lead herself out, that she knows hells the tape can’t reveal. She won’t blame them for not knowing—how can you blame the shadow watchers in the cave—but she will hope they can cope with the underworld if (no, when) it’s revealed.


###


When the trial begins neither can avoid looking back.

ext_3965: (Default)

From: [identity profile] persiflage-1.livejournal.com


This is brief but very thought-provoking.

Every victim haunts them, but this one walks among them, breathes their air.

Just to make it even more horrendous and painful for them all...

To make this work in court—if Merrick pushes it that far—he’ll need to be the barrister who can watch her violation without breaching the security of the defendant’s dock.

And James is definitely that passionate and capable of that much anger that he would want to smack Merrick.

He has to watch because he claimed he was as angry as she was. As soon as he’d said it, he knew there was no way he ever could be.

I thought that was interesting - that James said he was angry as Alesha. It was obvious to me, at least, that he couldn't be.

He needs to watch because she’s not going to be able to watch it for him this time. This time he has to find his heart on his own.

*hugs James hard*

Of course, neither thinks that perhaps she can lead herself out

If anyone's strong enough to do that, it's Alesha.

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com


This is brief but very thought-provoking.

Thanks; I'm glad you found it so. I like to write tiny things, but I always end up stressing over them in disproportionate amounts--as you well know! :-)

I thought that was interesting - that James said he was angry as Alesha. It was obvious to me, at least, that he couldn't be.

That moment is going to figure heavily in the next story I'm working on (the one I sent you the beginning for) because it's such a very real moment (to me, anyway). He assumes, for whatever reason (their shared passion for the law/justice, the care they feel for one another, etc.), that he can make that statement, but there's no way that he can. I do think, though, on some level that he can be as angry as she is, but his anger comes from places that will be very, very different to hers.
ext_3965: (Default)

From: [identity profile] persiflage-1.livejournal.com


Thanks; I'm glad you found it so. I like to write tiny things, but I always end up stressing over them in disproportionate amounts--as you well know! :-)

Indeed. But it's understandable - less is more, after all...

That moment is going to figure heavily in the next story I'm working on (the one I sent you the beginning for) because it's such a very real moment (to me, anyway). He assumes, for whatever reason (their shared passion for the law/justice, the care they feel for one another, etc.), that he can make that statement, but there's no way that he can. I do think, though, on some level that he can be as angry as she is, but his anger comes from places that will be very, very different to hers.

Oh yes - I think he could grow to be as angry as Alesha - but he wasn't at that point - and, as you say, it was a different kind of anger.

ETA: Just noticed you changed the last line from when I posted my first comment...

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com


Oh yes - I think he could grow to be as angry as Alesha - but he wasn't at that point - and, as you say, it was a different kind of anger.

The thing that I've noticed on the timeline is that there's about a week between the initial visit to Merrick and that moment; I like to think that his anger is real and very personal, but that professionally he knew the chances were slim. And I'll shut up about it now before I end up writing that fic in the comments! ;-)

ETA: Just noticed you changed the last line from when I posted my first comment...

Yeah. That was the main thing that was bugging me about the fic, and I decided that I didn't want to pull the punch in the end. While they both end up doing the right thing to help put the case to bed, I think they each deal with some pretty heavy-duty soul searching and evaluating when they find out about Dianne.
ext_3965: (Default)

From: [identity profile] persiflage-1.livejournal.com


The thing that I've noticed on the timeline is that there's about a week between the initial visit to Merrick and that moment; I like to think that his anger is real and very personal, but that professionally he knew the chances were slim. And I'll shut up about it now before I end up writing that fic in the comments! ;-)

Hee, good point!

Yeah. That was the main thing that was bugging me about the fic, and I decided that I didn't want to pull the punch in the end. While they both end up doing the right thing to help put the case to bed, I think they each deal with some pretty heavy-duty soul searching and evaluating when they find out about Dianne.

True...

From: [identity profile] kathpup.livejournal.com


That last line feels like a punch in the gut, and I like the way you contrasted their reactions to the tape.

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com


Sorry about the punch; as I noted upthread, I almost pulled it.

That scene with the tape really stuck with me after first viewing, and the juxtaposition of Matt at the window versus the other three at the table intrigued. I thought the choice to watch/not watch said something about each of them. I'm glad you enjoyed it and thanks for your comment!

From: [identity profile] kathpup.livejournal.com


Sorry about the punch; as I noted upthread, I almost pulled it.

I'm glad you didn't, it hurt, but it was a great way to end it.

From: [identity profile] xbeyondinsanex.livejournal.com



***It’s not the same when the victim on the screen is the object of your—Matt’s not certain what she is to him, exactly. Ronnie was right to call them mates, but Matt knows he’s wanted something more from her for a long, long time***

Love this bit. I think it's strange, but perhaps this whole incident kind of cleared Matt's head where she was concerned. Gret fic, poetic. I love your narrative style.

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com


Thanks--I thought you might like that part! ;-)

I think it's strange, but perhaps this whole incident kind of cleared Matt's head where she was concerned.

You know, we get so little between them through the whole series, but it's clear that there's something there--a hint of interest, a small flirtation. I was really intrigued with the way the script for "Alesha" clearly marked relationships between Alesha and both men: Ronnie's comment about them being mates, James's statement that they had a personal relationship. It really opened up this delicious tension that I hope will be somewhat explored in the next episodes--but not at the expense of the formula, which is what L&O is about, darnit! They're not supposed to outline ships for us too clearly! ;-)

Really glad you enjoyed and thanks for your comment!

From: [identity profile] xbeyondinsanex.livejournal.com


Right. It's kind of fun to draw from, this open palette. I am used to shows with established dynamics that I have to play with, and this is more like shades of crimson, depending on how you look.

From: [identity profile] oltha_heri.livejournal.com


Oh god, you are dealing with this really well. I haven't been able to touch these characters since Alesha 'cause I just don't know how to make them interact, but you do it so well. The reactions seem completely in character, this especially struck me as accurate, given how we saw their proceeding interactions: "This time he has to find his heart on his own."

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com


I haven't been able to touch these characters since Alesha 'cause I just don't know how to make them interact

I didn't think I'd find a way to do it myself, but sticking to the unexamined spaces in the episode has actually made it possible for me to write them. I'm hoping that I can eventually move on to do some other things that are a bit lighter.

This time he has to find his heart...

The thing that makes this episode so compelling and difficult is the way it illuminates the ways that characters interact with and understand each other. Alesha has been his heart this whole season, and all of a sudden she's begging him to have a heart for her situation.

But really, in the end, all I could think of was that he has to watch this thing happen to her and he can do nothing to stop it. It's just awful.

From: [identity profile] flirtyfroggy.livejournal.com


I love the contrast between their reactions and, more importantly, the reasons behind it. And I especially love that you then contrasted them both to her thoughts. And the last line: ouch! But in a good way.

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com


Really glad that you enjoyed it; that scene struck me right away, and I knew that I wanted to eventually do some thinking about their positions in the room and how they revealed their perspectives/thoughts. Thanks for the comment!

From: [identity profile] bamberrific.livejournal.com


Oh this was painful but very well written. Like so many others have said already, the contrasts in the actions and thoughts of the two men were excellently portrayed.

And this:

James sees how alone she is in that defiled room, the room he fears has sterilized their potential future. If he’s going to lead her out of this hell when all is done, he has to descend to find her there.

seemed so James, it was heart wrenching.

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com


Thank you; I'm sorry that it was painful, although that moment is so awful (and just compounds the viewer's pain from the original moment) that the pain can't be avoided.

James's "descent"--the more I think about his role in this episode, the more I think of him in this way. I'm glad that image struck you.

From: [identity profile] bamberrific.livejournal.com


Don't apologise for the pain - it's necessary and wouldn't be realistic without it.

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com


You know, I had to laugh at myself a bit when I read this--I think I'm having a hard time coming to terms with my angst-bunny tendencies!

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the fic and thanks for your comment!

From: [identity profile] tokenblkgirl.livejournal.com


I'm still playing catch up with this show, so I haven't seen this ep yet, just read about it. But must say that this was just so lovely. Heartbreaking. And very well done. Loved it.

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com


Thank you; I'm glad that it made sense even though you haven't seen the episode, and I'm very glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and commenting!
.

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