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24 May 2010 @ 06:30 pm
Numb3rs Fic: Babel On  
Written for numb3rs100 Challenge #264 – Accent

Title: Babel On
Pairing/Characters: Charlie
Rating: PG
Word Count: 300
Spoilers: All's Fair, Season 6
Summary: Charlie stands in the middle of London in awe
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

London is amazing.

Charlie's been here before, but it always renders him awestruck. Forget America, an average day here is a real melting pot of cultures.

Charlie halts, letting London's masses swirl around him. He's enveloped in a crush of humanity, all waiting to cross at the street corner.

His ears pick up a slew of different voices, accents, languages: proper Queen's English, a Scottish brogue, a French lilt...

Two middle-aged women in saris chatter beside him so excitedly they're stepping over each other's words. Charlie wonders what they're speaking. Hindi? Punjabi? Tamil? Amita would probably recognize it.

A man in a turban and business suit talks on his cell phone in clipped Arabic. A mohawked pierced punker sporting leather despite the sun spits out her gum and swears. A Hispanic nanny soothes afroed twins wailing in a stroller with a Caribbean flavored ballad.

The light changes and they all move save him. They brush past him and a whole new crowd approaches from the other side of the street.

A beat boy shoulders his massive radio, electronica booming from it as he passes.

A gray-haired German couple bicker, heads down over a map.

A gaggle of Japanese girls titter over some shared secret.

Charlie just lets it all sink in.

"Excuse me?" a thickly accented voice asks. It's the German man, clearly egged on by his wife. "Do you know how to get to the London Eye?"

"Sure." Charlie gestures towards the Thames. "Just cross that bridge and turn left. It will be about a quarter mile down, right by the water."

"Thank you!"

They bustle away, still examining the map as Charlie smiles to himself.

He knows these things. He lives here now.

The light changes again and now it's his turn to be part of London's masses.

Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on May 25th, 2010 01:31 am (UTC)
The premise for this fic is based on a similar experience I had on a street corner during my first trip to London.

The title is a play on both Babel (as in Tower of Babel) and the phrase "babble on". No resemblance to Babylon 5 is intended. ;-)

People familiar with London might snicker at the asking for directions to the London Eye. For those who don't know it, it's really tall so it's hard to miss if you're anywhere nearby, so I made these tourists too busy looking at their map to look around and possibly spot it. That said, the core of London does have some seriously tall skyscrapers. I rather like the one that looks like the offspring of a missile and a Faberge egg. ;-)

BTW, to anyone watching my LJ and wondering where all the fic went to, finals will be over by the end of the month and regularly scheduled ficcing shall likely recommence in June.

If I survive.

Very special thanks to beta melissima for her assistance with this fic.


Emma DeMarais
rubynye: Origami (by zeldaophelia)rubynye on May 25th, 2010 02:06 am (UTC)
Emma! I am so happy to see you on my Friends page. And with such a lovely, atmospheric snapshot of a fic! I've had this experience in the middle of NYC and Boston, and it's part of why I'm a big city girl through and through.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
Hey there hon! /hugs/ I got your message via Mel. I've been crazy with finals and just got back from two days of exam hell. UGH. Have missed you though!

It's great that you've had similar experiences. Mine really stayed with me. I had a different experience in Boston, but I really liked the city. Technically I liked Cambridge a lot more, but still. I've gone back several times and not just for work so clearly I liked it!

I've lived in city proper and there's really nothing like it. It's great to be part of a wonderful urban experience. Every time I go into SF I'm jealous of those who can afford to live there, but I still think Seattle's better. ;-)

/hugs again just because/
Candi: Colby Happymustangcandi on May 25th, 2010 02:10 am (UTC)
I'm so glad to see fic from you. Quite frankly, my f-list has been a MESS lately with people leaving the N3 fandom and threatening to start an N3 wank fest and it makes me want to puke. I still love this show, still love this fandom. I'm glad to see you're still in it, still above all the bullshit, and still producing lovely fic like this... I love this glimpse at London!Charlie.

You... are amazing... and for more reasons than just writing fic. *huge hugs
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC)
I'm so glad to see fic from you. Quite frankly, my f-list has been a MESS lately with people leaving the N3 fandom and threatening to start an N3 wank fest and it makes me want to puke.

Aww, I'm sorry hon! /massive hugs for you/ I no longer read LJs from wanky people so I've completely missed whatever you're talking about, but I'm still sad you had to go through it. (Life's too full to import someone else's idea of drama, you know?)

Today I may have spent studying for a final exam, but I did it in a gorgeous library sitting in front of a window almost as big as my house with a view that would just about take your breath away. A nice sunny spot to cram and be content after one of the best breakfasts EVER. (Mel and I stumbled upon a gem of a place.) So even when there's exam drama I'm still looking for ways to enjoy life and not let it get me down.

So thanks for the kind words out of nowhere. I am glad to be able to call you my friend and hope your F-list gets happier - for your sake - soon. :-)

And yes, of course I'm ficcing! Over 200 N100 prompts in a row - haven't missed one since I started! /big grin/
(Deleted comment)
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 07:15 am (UTC)

And LOL @ your story! I bet you it's a bit like the Space Needle in Seattle. The way it's shot in photographs makes it look like part of downtown Seattle, but it's not! It's actually two neighborhoods over in the Seattle Center in the Denny Regrade area, but it looks best photographed against the skyline so people downtown are confused as to why it's not there. Hehehe
Tamanna: Colby smileswingandswirl on May 25th, 2010 02:58 am (UTC)
Oh, this is lovely. Just a delicious snippet of city life that you captured so perfectly.

I have not been happy with fandom of late *cough*flouncingwankydramaqueens*cough* so thank you for reminding me there is still much to love about it.

Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 07:18 am (UTC)
Tam! /hugs/

Candi mentioned something about wank above and I'm sorry you guys had to go through that. I'm removed from all that so I saw nothing, heard nothing, don't care a whit about anyone else's drama. I'm just sad it affected people I care about.

We might have to find some time to group IM with at least you and I and Mel to make up for not being able to have you in slashchat. I already miss hanging out with you online! /smishes/

/sends you many cookies and picture of shirtless Colby and Ian/

(If you don't want them I'm sure Andy will snatch them up. Hehehe)
Tamanna: Colby smileswingandswirl on May 27th, 2010 07:32 am (UTC)
*hugs back*

Thanks, sweetie. The person in question is off my flist, off my radar, and out of my sphere of giving a rat's ass, so I'm much better now. *nods determinedly* Like I said to Candi, I care too much about the show and the fandom to let her ruin it for me.

*smishes back* Yes, totally! Home is fun but I MISS you guys! /whine. Rassum frassum time difference...

Cookies AND topless pics? You spoil me, m'dear. *hugs you*

And I'm glad to know that exams aren't eating you alive, much. *sends Andy over to make you tea and cookies and distract you from overtaxing yourself* I'd write you fic as encouragement, but I don't want to overload your schedule more than it already is...

*looks at time and squeaks* Meep! Back to N3BB with me! *hugs and runs back to fic*
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 07:36 am (UTC)
Good for you, hon. "Do not engage" is a wise philosophy.

I'll be human again as of June 1st which is probably when you'll be raising your head from NBB so let's reconnect after the 31st and talk!

Bon courage!
Tamanna: Colby smileswingandswirl on May 27th, 2010 07:39 am (UTC)
*is learning not to feed the trolls*

Ooh yes, absolutely. *happily anticipates*

A toi aussi! *sends coffee and major good luck vibes your way*
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 07:47 am (UTC)
Til then!

(And I'm past luck. Exams are done - I just need enough energy to turn in my final assignments on time!) /plots to make full caffeine coffee in the morning/
ladygray99ladygray99 on May 25th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
Now I want to go to London. Lovely and fun. You paint a picture of it so well.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 07:19 am (UTC)
Thanks! It helps having been there. Man, that really was an experience.

Of course you've got me wanting to come down and visit your fair isle as well!
devon99 on May 25th, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
I love London.I'm such a city girl:) We caught the train down over Easter for a long weekend and had such a lovely time, just museum visiting.

Lol, a missile and a faberge egg? You do it more justice than it's nickname which is the gherkin!!

Always lovely to see you on my flist sweetpea. You know I think you're awesome - always will do.

*hugs you tight*
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 07:31 am (UTC)
/hugs you back just as tight/

You know, you should see me over here. I'm all 'aww' over how many people said they were glad to see me! I know I don't often go a week and a half without posting, but I can't go more than 2 weeks thanks to N100's weekly prompts so I'm never gone super long! I am still happy though. I keep thinking about the Radiohead lyric "I want you to notice when I'm not around". So just know that you being happy to see me made me happy too. ♥

Anyway, I saw that they call it the gherkin! LOL We don't use that word much in the States (more pickle), but it is rather, um, phallic? So i suppose pickle is the nicer way of putting it. /snicker/

I'm drawing a blank on the name, but the museum right by the London Eye? When I was there they had a fabulous Dali exhibit! /dies/ It was Dali's centennial I believe so I went to theirs and to Dali's former atelier in Montmartre for their exhibit too. Truly amazing. NO ONE saw the world like Dali did. /marvels/

/hugs you again just because you're a dear like that and I adore you/
devon99 on May 27th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
What a coincidence that you mention Dali. There was a program on here, Sunday night I think, all about his work and influences. He had the most extraordinary imagination. Quite remarkable way of looking at the world.

Next time you are over in London - we shall have to meet up.

Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
That would be lovely! I would very much like to show Mel Europe, but I'm hoping the EU will keep working on making it a bit more wheelchair accessible in the meantime.

I should see if I can find a copy of that Dali programme. Do you know what it was called and/or what network it was on? I don't assume everything is on BBC. ;-) He really saw that world through unique eyes. His La Mancha sketches are breathtaking in person, so full of emotion even though they're pretty much just spiral type ink sketches at heart. I hadn't realized he'd done so much religious themed art until I saw his exhibits. Most every knows him for the melting clocks and elephants on spindly legs, but he had a real variety of styles throughout his career. And of course he had Gala...
devon99 on May 27th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)

Don't know if you will be able to access this in America?
But it was on the BBC called Modern Masters. It's the 4th in the series. They have done Matisse, Picasso, Warhol. All four are featuring in an exhibit currently showing at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
Sorry, they don't want to waste bandwidth on us Yanks. Only fair seeing as how our streaming media outlets tend to disallow any IPs from outside of North America or even the US.

I'll have to see if it comes out on DVD or BBC America later. I like Picasso and Matisse is interesting, but I'm not a huge Warhol fan. I get that he was relevant in his time, but I don't find that his works hold up in the long run as well. To me, Cubism will always be daring and interesting. Not so much with Pop Art.
fyreflyfyrefly101 on May 26th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
You know, that's pretty much the perfect snapshot. Charlie standing there, watching the city swirl past him...and London itself. I never get over traipsing round the city, and on some days, not hearing a single word of English spoken on the streets. Wishful thinking that on one of those days, I'd bump into Charlie waiting to cross the street :)

Lovely, as ever.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 07:33 am (UTC)
Thank you! I remember marveling at just how much of a melting pot the city proper was. I was expecting a strong Indian contingent (and a boatload of sushi places) but what I experienced there was so much more. America, I think, is more of a melting pot in which we have lots of communities with one or two strong cultures whereas other communities have different dominant minority/foreign/whatever cultures. London? Seemed to have them all elbow to elbow. Pretty damn cool IMHO.
fyreflyfyrefly101 on May 27th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)
There are definitely areas/pockets/single streets where one culture predominates, but yes, there's just such a flow. It's more interesting to work out which of the languages belong to the tourists who are in town for a couple of days, and which belong to "Londoners proper" who keep their own language on top of speaking English....although saying that, cockney rhyming is definitely a language of it's own...These are definitely the good things that make me proud to be a Londoner.

It sucks (generally) that there is no season 7, but specifically here, because seeing Charlie in London would've been awesome *wistful thoughts*
I can just see him at the Royal Societies, or causing a police incident outside Parliament cos he got distracted picking out the mathematical properties of the turrets and the police thought he was casing it to blow the place up.... *ahem*.
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC)
LOL! Oh, I can just see a series where Charlie aids Scotland Yard now that he's nearby! Or an AU where Charlie is a peer to Sherlock Holmes! GAH! Attack of the killer bunnies! /hides/

Amusingly, I had cockney listed in the first draft of this fic. I replaced it with the Scottish brogue for more variety since I already had English first in the list and wanted more variety, kind of a start with the British Isles and expand out sort of vibe. That and there are a few Scots I am rather fond of. ;-)

I can see how it would be easy to be proud to be a Londoner. Sadly the exchange rate slays us Americans. The pound, when I was there, was just too strong against the dollar so it was really expensive! Thankfully the Euro wasn't too far off so Paris only cost me 20% more than back home. I shudder to think what the exchange rate is now. Ugh.

FWIW we get quite a bit of that in San Francisco - the trying to tell which foreign languages come from tourists (many) and which are from locals. It's a pretty nice variety, but not as wide as London in my experience.
fyreflyfyrefly101 on May 27th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
Now would be a good time to come back to the UK - the pound's tanked, what with election kerfuffle, the EuroZone disaster (no one talk about Greece, or Spain, or Portugal, or....) and the general economic disasters. I do sympathise - we're not a cheap country to begin with, and the exchange rate does tourists no favours :( I did always love San Fran for the variety there - one of the few places in the States that made me feel at home, without being homesick. It was (is) awesome in entirely it's own way.

You put Charlie and Sherlock in the same sentence. I know have mental images of Charlie cramming the deerstalker hat and struggling to get his curls under it...heh. Such a pretty picture :D
Emma DeMaraisemmademarais on May 27th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
LOL I have mental images of Sherlock/Watson/Charlie smoking something at the Baker Street flat then getting ahem involved? LOL

But yeah, I can totally see the curls snaking their way out of the hat despite his best efforts to curtail them. Hehehe

Sadly our own economic woes mean no much for travel for many of us. /sigh/ Such is life...
Andrea: ineedabreakdizzydrea on August 17th, 2011 04:35 am (UTC)
Oh, London! My favorite International city! I love being there...the people, the sights, the exchange rate. Okay, maybe that last part's not so cool. But I still love London. I celebrated a birthday there one year. Too cool!

I've been in Charlie's shoes, oddly enough. I was on a church trip, and we were standing outside the British Library (absolutely fabulous place to visit, if you're of a mind), and this woman comes up to us asking for directions to some place I'd never heard of. We looked at each other, then at her and shrugged and said--in our very American accents--"No idea where that is". The woman looked at us all suprised, like she thought we were natives, and then trudged off to find someone else. It was pouring rain, so I'm sure she wasn't all that happy that we couldn't tell her what she wanted to know, but we just cracked up afterwards. Imagine us as natives! Made my day, I can tell you!