paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)
Chapter 4 is complete, and the word count is approaching 8,000. I'm retaining the original dual plot after all, as they are both too interesting to pass up. I'm really getting to know Austin in a new way with this effort. Looking forward to sharing this. I'm thinking of starting after the holidays. Once I hit the half-way point, I'm comfortable that I'll finish. Otherwise, I'm always afraid of disappointing someone who's reading if I lose my steam and stop before I finish.
paulak_rumin8: (Austin and Mickey)

Coming soon, another fan fiction to add to the ranks of the lamentably small Probe fandom...

Tales From the Secret Life of Austin James

Reveals what really goes on at that warehouse after Mickey leaves for the night,

What Austin was like as a kid and who's to blame,

How Austin combines criminal investigation with furniture shopping,

and...

Whether it's possible for the Great Austin James to handle a relationship more demanding than the Universe...


* No breaking and entering, no stealing...Just how do you expect me to investigate this? - AJ

Probe fic

Dec. 7th, 2011 10:25 pm
paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)
Aftermath (Revised, with Austin's commentary in 1st person, bracketed)

The wall clock displayed 6:30 p.m. and Mickey closed her weekly planner for the last time that day. She checked across the room to the left and saw Austin still there, crouched down on the floor with a box resembling a wireless joystick and three softball-sized, gelatinous-looking orbs, muttering to himself as he carefully positioned them and moved one of the joystick handles this way or that. He had been preoccupied with that particular project for at least the last hour. So far, Mickey couldn’t gather from her own observations what possible purpose  he had in mind for it. She would have asked him about it, but he had been unwilling to talk about anything all day, preferring single-syllable answers and grunts. On the days he was wearing that sort of mood it could be near impossible to shake him out of it. As close as they'd become working together over the past couple of years, he had an inner life that more often than not kept her mystified. {I'm determined to keep my distance from you for a while. I've been strangely affected by the events of the past few days, and I haven't figured out a solution to this imbalance.}

“Hey, Austin,” she called, rising out of her chair. She stretched her arms over her head and leaned left and right, letting her back crack. “I think I’m ready to head home. You need anything else before I go?”

She expected a vague response to the negative and perhaps a muttered good-bye, but instead, he looked up and set aside his joystick. "I'll walk you out," he said. Then he stood and crossed the room towards her, standing some distance away between Mickey and the door. {Distant or not, I will never again leave you to walk out there alone.}

She smiled appreciatively. She didn’t believe there was likely to be any danger walking the twenty feet or so to her car alone, but she wasn’t at all inclined to discourage his company. After her harrowing ordeal with armed gunmen outside Austin’s warehouse residence just four days ago, even standing in that lot when she arrived this morning gave her some anxiety.

While she put away her planner, shrugged into her coat, and picked up her purse, Austin remained stationed in his chosen position, several feet away, looking her way if not directly at her, hands shoved in the pockets of his tan slacks. He sure had been distracted today, even for Austin James. {I'm finding my attention compulsively directed toward you, and I cannot seem to integrate my recent fear for your life into my previous schema of thought. I suspect I might now be irretrievably in love with you, and I don't know what to do with this new thought pattern.}

“Is something wrong?” she asked, trying to sound casual. She was still mentally debating the wisdom of asking him about his aloofness, given that she had some idea of its cause. She wasn’t entirely sure she wanted his answer. He was so private, such a recluse, and between the early hours of Friday morning and late that same night, circumstances had forced him so far outside his comfort zone, he must still be reeling. In the course of one 24-hour period, he had played hero to Mickey in her peril, threatened to quit his post as president of his company, and submitted himself to dinner with Mickey and her family at her home. Certainly she could appreciate his social retreat, even from her, come Monday. All the same, she found it acutely disappointing. It was hard to accept that the consolation of a very bad experience for her was only an additional bad experience for him.

 {I have reached the conclusion that I don't want to talk about it.} “What makes you think something’s wrong?” he shot back, confirming her suspicions by the tautness of his tone.

“Well,” she said lightly, “you’ve hardly said two words together all day. Are you thinking about something?”

He smiled as tightly as he spoke. “I’m always thinking about something.” {Really, Mickey, I don't want to discuss it.}

She came a few steps closer to him. “Anything good?”

Maybe that helped. He exhaled and seemed to deflate a little. {All right, then have it your way...But where do I start?} But then he ran a hand through his hair and said, “Mickey, your mother knows you just work for me.”

Mickey shrugged. “Yes. I’m pretty sure. Why?”

“After dinner on Friday, she told me to come again.”

“She was being polite. She says that to anyone who isn’t a boor.”

“She invited me to Thanksgiving.” {I think your family understands where I'm heading better then either you or I do.}

Mickey had to stifle a smile. She had missed that. Mom could be sneaky. “She knows you live alone. She didn’t want you to be lonely on the holiday.”

“Why would I be lonely?”

“I don’t know, Austin. She just met you. Maybe she assumes everyone who spends Thanksgiving alone must be lonely.”

He opened his mouth, but whatever he was planning to say got checked and didn’t come out. {Does your mom assume I'm your boyfriend because you brought me home for dinner?}

“Austin,” Mickey said emphatically, after a pause, “we’re friends, right? It’s okay if my mother asks one of my friends to come back. It’s fine. It doesn’t mean anything.” She should have stopped there, but a twinge of annoyance prompted her to add innocently, “Do you think she thinks we’re dating or something?” {Oh hell! I knew it! You can read my mind!}

He seemed to recoil a bit, and she was a little sorry she had been so blunt. He grimaced and walked away. He was fretting. She followed him while he made his way to a panel of controls and began to fidget with them. “I was out of line the other day,” he said. {Why didn't I see before how completely inappropriate this was?} He glanced toward her a moment. “I should have brought you home Thursday night, and I had no business being at your family dinner.” Anticipating her objection, he continued quickly, “Even though it was perfectly innocent, it still could have given a very different impression.” Now he looked almost angry. “Secretaries go home at night.” {We've got to go back. This is all wrong.}

“Austin!” she cried, stunned. “Since when have you been concerned when I pull an all-nighter here? There have been plenty of times I’ve worked round the clock for you, starting with day one!” Mentally, she was beginning to kick herself for ever inviting him home to dinner. She hadn’t imagined it would render him ridiculous.

{I need the deprivation tank. I need the deprivation tank.} He began walking again. She followed him again. He frowned, deep in his thoughts. “This was different. You weren’t working.”

Impatiently, she blurted, “And what? Does that mean you were taking advantage of me? You make it sound like I was sleeping with you.” {Why did you say that? That image...I don't need this in my head.}

That little gem stopped him abruptly. His piercing blue eyes glared at her momentarily. {Let's see how you like feeling awkward.} Then he said with irony, “Actually, you were.”

She colored. “Did I miss something?” {See? Not pleasant, is it?}

“You were sleeping,” he said pointedly, “on the couch, and so was I.”

“You were?”

“Yes.”

She eyed him curiously. “How long was that?” As far as she knew, he didn’t sleep anywhere but in his modified tool cabinet.

“About twenty minutes.” {This was phenomenal, for me.}

For a moment her eyes widened, and then a great laugh burst out of her that she simply couldn’t contain. “That’s it?” she cried. With grand merriment, she added, “I don’t think I’d admit that.” {Apparently, it was less than phenomenal for you.} Her amusement faded when she realized he seemed embarrassed. He obviously wasn’t appreciating the humor of the situation. “Austin,” she said, more gently. “I can’t believe you’re taking this so seriously. I know it was a weird situation. I was upset. You were just being there for me. You were being a good friend. Really, that’s it. Nothing’s changed.”

“Nothing’s changed,” he echoed, looking at her with some sort of inscrutable expression. Did he doubt? {Are you blind? Have I ever experienced this degree of positive emotive energy elicited by another human being? I want you so bad I might combust.}


“Nothing,” she insisted. {So this is nothing. Let me show you 'nothing'.}

That inscrutable expression was still fixed on her when he took two strides toward her, curled his arm around her back, dipped his head down to hers and pressed his lips against hers firmly. For an instant she stiffened in utter surprise, and then she closed her eyes and made herself relax. This development was unexpected, but not unwelcome. His kiss was lengthy and insistent. Whatever it was lacking in tenderness it was making up for in conviction. When it ended, he eased her upright again, the solid pressure of his hand still present on the small of her back. She was glad for it, or she may have fallen over, such was her feeling of imbalance in the aftermath of the embrace.

Mickey felt electrically charged and slightly shaky in the legs. She couldn’t immediately find her voice, and neither, it seemed, could Austin. She had been mistaken. Something had changed between them, and probably more radically on his side than hers. She had always admired him, trusted him, maybe even loved him if she was willing to own it. But knowing him and his impenetrable solitude, she had long ago buried any romantic inclinations. Now they stood looking at each other, unsure of what to do or what to say. {There's no going back. I am in completely unfamiliar territory, Mickey. I hope you wanted that as much as I did. Or did I scare you? I can't tell by the look on your face. Please, say something.} Finally, she licked her tingling lips and stammered breathlessly, “Y-You told me the u-universe was all you could handle.”

{I'm recently convinced the universe has nothing on you. And since we've cleared up our misunderstanding, I intend to repeat this behavior frequently... even if it means a Thanksgiving dinner lies in my future.} A slow, sheepish smile crept across his face. “I changed my mind.”


paulak_rumin8: Austin and speck (Default)
I've been pondering the childhood of Austin James. I'm coming up annoyed. The problem is the creators of Probe weren't thinking that deeply into the background of the characters. What I know about the creation of Austin James is that he is a loose alter ego of Isaac Asimov. Asimov was a highly intelligent, somewhat cynical, naturally elegant writer with a background in biochemistry and strongly defined interests (and disinterests). He appreciated fields of research and development that had a concrete, practical application (like robotics). He had no use for theoretical subjects like Philosophy. He was a claustrophile and an aerophobe. His family life seemed to be fairly ordinary, warm, not particularly strict. He tolerated but did not like editors.

It is hard to get a good feel for Austin James' educational background. How much formal education did he receive? Did anyone ever award him with an honorary doctorate for his work in astronomy, or his work in writing code, or his work in mechanical engineering? Can any institution of higher learning claim him as an alumnus? I would have considered making him a biochemistry major, like Asimov, except for the one episode where he admits he's weak in chemistry. So what is his field of study?

The other issue I have is the nature of his family life. Everything I garnered from the show tells me his parents at least made an attempt to raise him in a conventional way and give him ordinary experiences. The photographs in the opening sequence indicate they also supported his development in his areas of genius. He doesn't seem to have siblings, but that is entirely speculation. His sleep issues, tangential activities, and constant multitasking make me think he probably falls somewhere on the ADHD spectrum, but his social skills, while awkward, are too sensitive and responsive to place him on the autistic spectrum (Manabu Yukawa, on the other hand, makes me wonder).

I doubt anyone writing for Probe ever spent all that much time considering who this character was in great detail, especially as far as where he had come from. I have some ideas about what kind of early life he had, but I get a little stumped when we get past graduation.

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