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18 September 2008 @ 09:40 pm
fic commentary, lost: Mr. Bad Example for toestastegood  
First of the dvd style commentaries! This one for Mr. Bad Example was requested by toestastegood, who is clearly wishing for my brain to take disturbing routes ;) but seriously, it really was fun to get back on this one. Even if as disturbing as it was the first time ;) anyway, the dvd commentaries meme is still open here. My comments are in bold.



Delayed flights are a bitch, Cooper thinks.*

*Now, I really was worried about setting a tone for this. I mean, this was like my fourth or fifth Lost fic or anyway it was early when I started writing for Lost and my POV was Anthony Cooper out of anyone. The opening actually came out pretty straightforward and I never thought much about it, it just seemed right, short and direct enough to start the whole thing. Also, since I had the idea from a song where the Mr Bad Example of the title in the end took a flight I went and set it in an airport since it was going to work better anyway.

Alright, stuff happens and if of all the flights that they could delete, they deleted his, well, it’s bad karma or something.*

*I don’t know why I think that Cooper has a pretty laid-back attitude after all. It looks to me like one that just does his thing and doesn’t care, so I went and had him musing about bad karma. I don’t think he’d have been upset by that.

Except that it really isn’t the best time. Damn, for once that he manages to pull a nice, short con and only has to leave quickly in order to enjoy his ten thousand dollars, here they are, they delete the flight. He considers getting on another, but he really needed to be outside the States for a couple weeks and planes for some lost island in the tropics are not too common. And the next one isn’t until the next day.

He sits at the airport lounge thinking back about his con, because, hey, when things don’t shine, you always have to think at the best in any situation.*

* That’s actually my attitude in any situation, but it sounded surreal enough.

That woman was just too easy. Alone, not too beautiful, well, okay, to be sincere she was rather insignificant, fed up with her whole family and eager to spill it all to the first stranger passing.

He had to admit that he hadn’t really caught why she wasn’t at her son’s wedding like her husband, but Cooper didn’t really give a damn about that. He had spent years consoling women, he could have made her feel better even without knowing a single thing about her.*

* At this point, I just mentioned the woman not being at the wedding, implying that it was Margo. I never really understood why she wasn’t at Jack’s wedding, but since it was a good point in canon I figured I could have Cooper conning her then.

The sex had been awful. Sincerely, he could understand why she believed that her husband cheated on her, even if, clearly, he told her she was the best he had in a long time. She said he was too.

Probably because she hadn’t had any in a long time, he decided. Not because he wasn’t a good partner in bed, hell, one isn’t a con man if he doesn’t know how to have proper sex, but because it was so plain it made him want to laugh.

The next day he showed up near her house with a bunch of roses and he had her almost crying.

The day after, when her husband was supposed to return, he had disappeared after reading her credit card number in her daily planner. Hell, you needed to be stupid to write it there.

Of course the credit card was backed on her husband’s, but Anthony Cooper knew his way through the world and he sure could pass as the woman’s husband who, oh, sorry, forgot the document at home, but the signature was exactly the same as he had seen on some diploma or stuff hanged in the living room and so, since he was their client, of course he could do as his wife asked and take ten thousand dollars.

Cooper knew that they probably had so much money that no one would have noticed it except her, and she probably would be too ashamed to tell her husband.*

* I’ll admit: I felt ashamed for treating Margo so badly in this section. I never liked her much but I felt so bad. She might have been a bitch all you want (this was written way before bouncy!S4!Margo made her appearance) but I really, really felt terrible for how I treated her here. I kept the language crude enough because no one is ever going to convince me that Cooper is one to care even a bit about the feelings of any woman he cons or about the consequences of his conning, but anyway, I still felt bad. So bad that I ended up writing Margo playing matchmaker with Jack and Sawyer eight months later in order to make up for how badly I portrayed her here. The con isn’t really the most complicated thing I could have made up but I thought it worked.

He figured he didn’t need to go back to the city.

The five star hotel at LAX was exactly what he could wish for. They rob you of five hundred dollars per night, but hell, he could just afford it now. He stood up, put his shiny new pair of Ray-Ban over his eyes, took his handbag and made it for the exit.*

* The idea of Anthony Cooper in ray-bans actually amused me. I don’t know if he ever wore them in canon but I just couldn’t shake the image *kicks her brain*.

Now, what he could do? He thought a nice, big meal would have been a good way to start, and then he could just get lazy in bed. He couldn’t call some girl there, too bad because he really needed some good sex right now, but one can pay a small sacrifice, once in a...*

*headdesks* I realize now that I messed up with the tense here. It was supposed to be all present, but I completely overlooked it. Argh, I think I’ll go editing the posted version ASAP *hides in shame*.

“Excuse me?”

Coooper turns in the direction of the voice, pulling his glasses slightly down. There’s a man behind him.

He’s maybe a bit taller than him, lean, more or less his age. Shiny white hair are neatly combed and Cooper guesses he paid at least eighty dollars for that cut. He’s smart, really, wearing a light gray suit and a clear blue tie on a perfectly white shirt. He isn’t young anymore, but sure is attractive, with not too many wrinkles and two clear blue eyes which absolutely match his tie.*

* Now, I’m far from being Christian Shephard’s first fangirl. In fact, I barely can stand the guy (always better than Cooper though), but I need to be objective: he can be an attractive man when he wants and he does have some beautiful eyes. So for my sake I went and tried to stress the thing as much as possible. Because I wasn’t really feeling very sane while writing this.

“You’re speaking to me?”

“Yes, to you exactly. May I introduce myself? I think me and you should talk about something.”*

* I wanted Cooper to be blunt and Christian to be polite as possible. ‘Cause you know, he can be. When he wants.

“Well, I really don’t know you.”

“No, but you know my wife.”, he says with some smirk.

Oh damn, delayed flights are really a bitch. Though hell, if this guy is the woman’s husband, that bitch must have told him she slept with somebody else.

What a fucked up family is that?, he thinks.*

* I might not be Anthony Cooper’s biggest fan either, far from it, but I had to had him reasoning just like any sane person would. That’s just the logic question that everyone would ask when knowing how the Shephard family unit stands. Or at least that’s my very humble opinion.

“You are Christian Shephard?”

“Yes, I am. I take you are Ted McLaren.”*

* I went on Lostpedia and searched for Cooper’s aliases. That was the most decent one and I couldn’t use Tom Sawyer. I don’t know but after he conned Sawyer’s mom with that alias I couldn’t have him conning Jack’s with the same one. Might be stupid but I just couldn’t or wouldn’t do it.

The guy doesn’t seem angry at all, Cooper wonders. Maybe he already spilled everything to the police? He really should get rid of that alias.

“Let’s say I am.”

“Well, I take you have some money of mine with you.”

Cooper doesn’t really feel like lying. The guy knows everything, probably, and maybe he still can settle.

Fuck flights, Malaysian air and frustrated, frigid wives.*

* Cooper flying Malasyian air is taken from the song that I stole the title from. I mean, the protagonist, who is Mr Bad Example, flies Malasyian air, so Cooper flies that company.

“You take right. But maybe, you know, we can...”

“Oh, I’m not here for the money.”

“What?”, he asks. Now, that one was interesting. And he was getting confused. “What do you mean?”

“Mr McLaren, first of all, you have already guessed I can spare myself some money, especially if it’s from my wife’s card. No, I wanted to tell you that I’m... impressed.”

“Impressed.”

“Yes. Because, let me tell you. To have sex with my wife you really need to be a strong man. For ten thousand dollars, I wouldn’t.”*

</b>* I was trying to be surreal here. I mean, it’s not a secret that Christian doesn’t love his wife. Here it looks like he despises her and I wouldn’t know if canon takes it to such lengths, but I don’t think he cares about her or has ever really cared about her. Not for anything he tells Jack in that mobisode that he made a mistake in marrying her, or something along those lines. So I figured he really would care only for his pride if she cheated on him, not about the bare fact that she cheated. I mean, he had a daughter in another continent, he’s the last one that could say anything about it. Also, I wanted to put straight that Christian really doesn’t want much to do with her.</b>

“Well, she’s your wife.”

“And didn’t you wonder why you got to con her? Anyway, she sent me here outraged because I had to get hold of you and report everything, and you stole money from her. She didn’t tell me that she slept with you, though.”

Oh, now everything was clear.

“Did she?”

Cooper shrugs.

“Yeah, she did.”

“I imagined it.”

“And what are you planning to do?”

“You know, Mr McLaren, I don’t think I will. Most of all, because if she was so stupid to fall into the arms of a con man when I’m away for three days, it’s her fault. Not mine.”*

* I’m realizing now that I skipped a passage. Cooper should have said something like ‘What are you planning to do, turn me in?’. I don’t know why I skipped that and why I never noticed, but looks like it had sense enough because no one pointed that out to me. Anyway, Christian’s answer was in line with my Christian-logic that I gathered from his canon behavior. He wouldn’t ever admit it’s his fault because he doesn’t care about her. Anyway, I’ll edit the posted version ASAP.

Cooper smiles. He could like this Christian enough.

“Flattered. And so?”

“So, just this. And I wanted to see how you looked like, anyway.”

Shephard turns and makes for the exit, except that Cooper is starting to actually having fun.

“Shephard!”

“What?”

“You know, you are the first husband that has ever tracked me down and I’ve had a long career. I’m quite impressed.”

“And so?”

“So I was thinking, would you care for a drink before you go?”

When he says drink, Shephard suddenly becomes interested.*

* I had to stress the thing. I don’t think that Christian would ever refuse an offer for a drink, even if paid with his money.

“Well, you’re paying with my money, but I could use one.”, he says coming nearer.

Cooper smirks. This Shephard is definitely of some interest.

--

They got to the hotel bar after Cooper checks in and they both get a glass of Jack Daniels. Shephard chose it, anyway.

“So you were at your son’s wedding?”

“I was. A nice ceremony, I must say. And his girl is just right for him. I wish I could have chosen as wisely.”*

* I was going according to the first mobisode here. He seemed to genuinely be happy for Jack and that he approved of Sarah, or so I understood. Of course he was way wrong like Christian always was regarding Jack, but that’s a whole other issue to discuss.

“You know, I have a son too. Except he wouldn’t be to happy to see me right now.”

“And why that?”

Cooper doesn’t really know why is he telling this guy something like that, but he thinks it’s not dangerous. And Shephard isn’t drunk, no, but isn’t that sober either, so he can suppose he won’t remember much of this conversation.

“Well, he says I stole his kidney.”

“My friend, a kidney is difficult item to steal.”*

*This is not arguably my most appreciated piece of dialogue in my whole ficcing Lost history. Most of the reviewers quoted it to me in their feedback. To be honest, at this point I was just going on automatic. This thing was flowing just as easily as ever and I hadn’t even stopped once to think since I started. Those two lines came just like that because to me it felt just natural that Cooper would answer that Locke hates him because he stole his kidney (I WANT MY KIDNEY BACK!! Okay, sorry, I got carried away) and that Christian would just raise his eyebrow and answer like that. I mean, he would answer logically, but the subject of the conversation is so surreal in itself that a logical answer only appears even more surreal. If I explain myself. I really don’t know where it came from but I am really satisfied with it, in retrospective.

Cooper shrugs and tells him some of the story without making names and of course avoiding some details. He’s sure that Shephard is so not going to turn him over or something, but better be sure.

When he’s through, Shephard just takes another drink.

“That’s a story. You know, I wouldn’t be proud of it.”

“Well, I used to refer to myself as Mr Bad Example. Ages ago.”*

* Here I started referencing the song almost directly. This isn’t a songfic by any kind of means, but Cooper as Mr. Bad Example was a what made me have the idea in the first place and it looked suited to me.

Shephard laughs, finishes his drink and orders another. While waiting, he loosens his tie a bit.

“It suits you best than McLaren.”

“You want to call me like that, be my guest.”

Cooper orders another drink and they come together.

“I’d have a toast, Mr Bad Example.”

“No one stops you. To what?”

Shephard stopped and started to ponder.

“Do you really need something?”

“I guess not.”, Cooper answers, and they toast.*

* I’ll admit with a bit of shame: I didn’t know what the heck should they toast to. I mean, I figured that kidneys was going to be as stupid as it could get and conned wives even worse, so I figured they wouldn’t need a reason anyway.

--

When Cooper wakes up, it’s seven in the morning and is flight is at noon. He’s in a very large and comfortable bed, is kind of rested and well, when he said he wanted proper sex he didn’t imagine to have it with the husband of the woman he conned the day before, but Shephard is sitting on the other side of the bed, wide awake too, glasses put on, reading something on his planner. He woke up first, seemingly, and Cooper thinks that the bitch wife doesn’t really have an idea. Because, hey, her man isn’t bad at this, not at all.*

* Well, I was writing this pairing alright, but I wouldn’t have written half a sex scene with them even if I was paid. I mean, I skipped the actual part but I guess it wasn’t really needed here; I just wanted to depict the aftermath, if we want to call it like that. The idea of Christian checking the planner with his glasses after getting laid was IMHO amusing so I left it here. About Christian being a good bed partner, I figured that if you spend your life cheating on your wife and having children in other continents, it’s not just because you have nice eyes.

“She said you cheat on her.”

“Margo?”

“Yes, your wife.”

“Well, she’s right. You know, I have a daughter. In Australia. With another woman, I mean.”*

* Made sense to me that if Cooper told Christian his more or less bigger secret, because I think that he doesn’t feel a bit guilty for having conned Locke into giving him the kidney, that Christian should tell Cooper his skeleton in the closet. Or at least I hope it doesn’t turn out that he had worse skeletons in the closet.

Now that’s interesting.

“It’s quite a skeleton in the closet. Does she know?”

“No, she doesn’t. And isn’t stealing kidneys a skeleton in the closet too anyway, Mr Bad Example?”

“I suppose it is”, Cooper answers. “But this makes you kind of a bad example too.”

“Never claimed to be a good one, though.”

“You’ve got a point. So, are we two bad examples?”*

* This probably was half the point of this fic. I mean, it didn’t take me of everyone to estabilish that they are two bad examples, but I had started it meaning for the Bad Example to be just Cooper. It turned out that they both agreed on that and I decided to leave them be on that. I think Christian lies when he says he doesn’t claim to be a good one because I’m sure he does claim it, but however. They’re bad examples, right? The fact that Cooper is sort of the philosophical one in this thing kind of took me by surprise but well, I just let him do what he wanted. He wouldn’t shut up otherwise.

“We probably are.”, Shephard answers taking a whiskey bottle from the nightstand where it has been since the night before and taking a drink from it. Cooper takes it too, hey, he isn’t one to refuse anything.

“My flight leaves at noon.”

“Fine. Tropical depression?”

“You can call it like that.”

Shephard nods and looks at the watch.

“It’s seven thirty, you know.”

“Means another four and a half hours.”

“Yes. It means four and a half hours.”*

* Means they had sex again, but like hell I was going to write that, as previously estabilished.

--

They stand near the bathroom doors at the gate Cooper’s flight is leaving. Cooper wears a red shirt and his pair of Ray-Ban, Shephard the same suit he wore the day before, only his hair is not so perfect anymore.

“Can I call you Christian?”

“Since I don’t think we’re ever going to see each other anytime soon, yes, I guess you can.”*

* I always thought that calling someone by his first name means you acknowledge that you have at least a superficial connection. They won’t see each other again if not in Craphole Hell, but I thought that Cooper acknowledging it was a plausible touch.

“Tell me just one thing. Don’t you feel guilty?”

“For cheating on my wife with the man who conned her?”

“If you put it like this.”

“Of course not. She cheated on me first, let me remember you.”

Cooper could ask him if he really did it to show the world (or most likely himself) that if his wife had someone he wasn’t any less*, but keeps his mouth shut because, hey, it’s been kind of fun and doesn’t want to ruin the mood even if he knows better.**

* I’d agree with Cooper here, after all.
** And I think that Cooper would never ruin himself a good mood either.


“Well, I wouldn’t feel guilty for cheating on her anyway, if I were you.”*

* Well, he’s a con man. It’d be strange if he did.

His flight is called and he makes to go, but Shephard smirks, grabs him by the shoulder and pulls him into a very brief but very insistent kiss, to say that, before letting go of his arm.*

* I figured that since I had censored the sex I should at least give a tangible proof of the fact that I had indeed slashed them. I went with short and direct sentences though, this isn’t the fic in which I try to be romantic or descriptive.

“Then this is goodbye, Mr Bad Example. It’s been a pleasure.”

He turns away and leaves. Cooper laughs, feeling just as right as possible, and boards on the flight.

--

A hostess comes to him just after the airplane leaves, when he calls her.

“Could I help you, sir?”

“Sure. Can I buy some Jack Daniels? It’s here in the list.”

“Of course, but you’re not..”

“.. allowed to drink it during the flight. I know, I know. Then I guess I’ll take a nap. Sherry?”, he asks reading her name on the tag just above her breast, “just a thing. Wake me up for meals, when they’re ready.”

“Of course, sir. Enjoy your flight.”

“I’ll sure do.”

Cooper takes out a black scarf, puts it around his eyes in order not to let the sun disturb him and drifts into sleep. He may live to be a hundred and go down in infamy, he thinks, but he’s leading a damn fine life, dirty deals included.*

* This is actually a reworking from said Warren Zevon song I took as an inspiration. To be more clear, the last two stanzas goes like this (the first is actually the refrain but whatever, not the point):

I'm Mr. Bad Example, intruder in the dirt
I like to have a good time, and I don't care who gets hurt
I'm Mr. Bad Example, take a look at me
I'll live to be a hundred and go down in infamy

I bought a first class ticket on Malaysian Air
And landed in Sri Lanka none the worse for wear
I'm thinking of retiring from all my dirty deals
I'll see you in the next life, wake me up for meals


Now, I got the whole idea when hearing the refrain since it always sounded so Cooper to me that I needed to use the name somewhere; to close the fic, I just reworked the last stanza into an actual scene. I have this leech attitude for which I take re-work ideas from whatever I watch or listen and here I just went and did it with that song, though most times I do it, it’s way less blatant and I just take a line or two for an inspiration. Of course I didn’t have Cooper retiring from the dirty deals, though I left the expression in the final draft or it wouldn’t have made sense. I just wanted to end it on a not angst or disturbing note, at least for Cooper. Or at least, the less disturbing I could do. I realize that the character is disturbing, but I just decided to approach him with a healthy dose of dark humor and it seemingly worked.


End, thank Jacob.


 
 
feeling: okayokay
on rotation: baby can I hold you - tracy chapman
 
 
 
elliotsmelliot: Jack tattooelliotsmelliot on September 18th, 2008 11:11 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy Toes pushed you to do a commentary on this one because it was a hell of a fic to read, and this proves that the same was true for the writing. But you persevered and came up with what I think was an incredible job characterizing two bastards who in many ways were made for each other.

It was interesting to read about your Margo guilt, being grossed up by the thought of writing the sex scene but insisting on the kiss, and how you were inspired by the song. I never noticed the typos. The tense thing is something I always struggle to keep straight.

"My friend, a kidney is difficult item to steal.”

This has to be one of the best fic lines ever!

They won’t see each other again if not in Craphole Hell, but I thought that Cooper acknowledging it was a plausible touch.

Now I am certain that they did meet again on Craphole Island!

Your commentary proves how brave you were to take on two stiffs in a box! It's hard to believe this is one of your first stories. Then again, it sets the precedent of how original your concepts and stories can be.
the female ghost of tom joad: lost CIS stiff in a boxjanie_tangerine on September 19th, 2008 09:13 am (UTC)
Glad that you found the enhanced version interesting as the first one! ;) seriously, it was fun to go back on this. Sometimes I still wonder what possessed me to actually write it and then I give up on understanding it. hearing the characterization of those two was good totally flatters me, especially since it isn't like I have a bit of empathy for either.

Tenses will be the death of me, as typos *headdesk* and yeah, I was completely engulfed with the Margo guilt. And I was until I wrote that other thing. While for the kissing.. yeah, I was decided on the fact that they should at least kiss. I mean, if I want to slash them I'll have to make it tangible, right? And I'm sure they met again on CI! ;)

And thanks again, you're really too good to me. And I'm surely proud of this whole madness ;)
Shona: lost - charlietoestastegood on September 19th, 2008 11:26 am (UTC)
Eee, it was so much fun to relive this with you! I remember when I saw the header with the pairing and was just like "... seriously? That is TOO AWESOME!" And then I read it and, yeah, it was too awesome. ;)

I don't think I'd have been able to read the sex scene if you had written it! Anthony needs to keep his clothes on at all times!

It was cool to see how much you weaved the song into the work: seeing how that last scene ties into the lyrics just confirms that you're a total genius.

Thank you for doing this for me!
the female ghost of tom joad: lost charliejanie_tangerine on September 19th, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
Thaank you so much! Oh, it was way fun to go back on it truth to be told, and the fact that you thought that it was awesome makes me so happy! I swear that when I was about to post it I was so like 'what the HELL am I doing' it wasn't even funny.

And don't worry. I have a self-preservation. I couldn't have written it for the life of me ;) I mean, Cooper does indeed need to keep those clothes of his -nods-.

And you're way too good to me. Though reworking songs is fun, I get a kick out of that ;) I'm really glad you had fun with this!