CHARACTERS; France, Vincent van Gogh
SUMMARY; France hears bizarre accounts of a painter and determines to meet him. The encounter is not what he expected.
He'd first heard of the strange painter while in Paris, having a drink and friendly discussion with some Impressionists. In their meandering they had gotten onto the subject of colors and one of them exclaimed that he thought van Gogh to be quite a master in the use of pigments.
The name was a strange one to France, and upon further questioning revealed an intriguing person attached to it. Van Gogh's admirer told him that the man's paintings practically dripped with emotion, but the artist himself was troubled and more than a little strange. When asked whether this Vincent was still residing in Paris the man replied in the negative, that the last he had heard was that he was staying in Arles, finding life in the City of Lights too draining on him.
France noted in his mind that he should go and pay a visit to Arles as soon as he could. Despite copious praise, nobody seemed to actually own a painting by the man, and he was terribly curious about these great emotions they seemed to contain. It was more than likely a large exaggeration, but it still was worth looking into.
Unfortunately this little trip dropped from his mind for some time, as he was preoccupied with this or that. Eventually the nation found himself ambling through the streets of Arles only to find that he was too late; the townspeople informed him with no small satisfaction that le fou roux had finally been ousted from his Yellow House and recently committed himself to an asylum.
Upon pressing for more details, France found that van Gogh had cut off part of his left ear in a fit of anguish before his departure. No one knew what to make of it.
With this revelation, the urge to speak with this bizarre man grew even stronger. France resolved to wait for his return to society and move quickly - it seemed any hesitation on his part caused the artist to disappear once more.
Finally, finally, word reached him that van Gogh was being treated by a doctor in Auvers-sur-Oise. Thanking the heavens that this town wasn't far from Paris, he made his way to this new residence soon after receiving the news.
The house wasn't much, France noted as he sauntered up to it. But then, why should it be? Doctors who ministered to starving artists weren't apt to be paid well. Especially if the artist was one prone to self-mutilation, he mentally added with a chuckle as the door opened at his knocking.
The woman who answered told him that she was Dr. Gachet's wife, and also that Vincent was not at home. She seemed leery of this stranger who sought a meeting with her husband's patient, telling him more than once that he most likely wasn't in any condition to be entertaining a guest.
France pleasantly but firmly persisted in expressing his wish to see him, and finally she relented, informing him that Vincent was out in one of the wheat fields painting. Upon receiving directions from the little wife, he thanked her and set off at a light jog.
The field was vast, but France could easily pick out van Gogh's shock of red hair and rickety easel as he approached. As he drew closer it became apparent that the artist was completely engrossed in the emerging work before him, only taking his eyes off of it to occasionally gaze into the countryside.
Thinking to startle the man and test his supposedly jumpy state the nation muffled his steps and slowly crept up behind him. As soon as he was directly behind him he leaned over slightly to comment on the work right in Vincent's ear, when the man himself softly murmured "Is there a reason you're out here?"
It was a miracle that France didn't jump out of his skin. He'd been sure van Gogh had never taken his eyes off that blasted canvas! Deciding it would be better not to dwell on that disturbance, he stepped back a bit and laughed before replying. "Of course there is! Friends of mine have been speaking of the great Vincent van Gogh for some time now, and I wished to meet him in person."
That caused Vincent to finally turn and face him. When he did France was startled once more; the man's eyes were an electrifying blue, and his gaze so intense that the nation felt at once van Gogh knew exactly who he was.
For a few moments the two silently locked gazes. Then the artist suddenly shrugged and turned back to his painting. "Well, you've seen van Gogh."
Grateful for the absence of that scorching look, his companion swallowed and slowly circled to the other side of the easel before making another attempt at conversation.
Vincent seemed a bit surprised that he hadn't wandered off, and slowly replied each time as if wondering when this strange man would have had his fill.
The fragile camaraderie brought on by trivial small talk lasted until he had finished his work for the day. Lifting the now finished painting from its resting place, Vincent was bemused to see France folding up the stand and cheerfully proclaiming he would shoulder it for him in return for continuing the warm talk they'd had.
Twisting his mouth up into a wry smile he agreed, and they two ambled back to his house.
Grinning at the befuddled wife who let them in once more, France followed Vincent into his studio and left his burden leaning upon a wall. Turning to make a comment on the minuscule accommodations, he was struck first by the look of intense despair on his new acquaintance's face. Before he could ask about it, the contents of the room hit him in full force.
There were paintings everywhere, lining the wall, leaning against the dresser which housed his paints, scattered in free corners.
As he gazed at them, France wondered at the sheer wrongness of the critique he'd been given on the man's works. They didn't bleed emotion - they were emotion, raw feelings tremulously captured in oils and fabric.
The room was completely silent as each man was lost in their own musings, surrounded by a riot of colors.
Finally pulling himself from his wonderment, France caught Vincent's attention once more. "Ah, my friend. It has been a...truly incredible afternoon, but I must be leaving. I'm needed in Paris this week, you know."
Van Gogh's expression was inscrutable as he nodded, mumbling a good-bye to him. He turned slightly, his hands reaching out at nothing and flittering in the air for a moment, as if he was waging an inner battle to reach a decision.
It seemed to be resolved quickly, as he stooped down and grasped a canvas. Turning back to France, he held out his offering almost timidly, simply whispering "You seemed to like it."
Taking it from him, the nation solemnly regarded the brooding church. Something sharp seemed to be caught in his chest, but he managed to choke out a merci before nearly fleeing from the room with his prize cradled in his arms.
A strange man indeed. But France couldn't help to smile sadly every time his eyes wandered onto the painting in the museum.
Oho man it's been forever since I wrote this for the kink meme. I still love the subject matter, so you guys get to have a look at it even if I'm not happy with the writing anymore.
The painting Vincent gave France was The Church at Auvers, a very passionate piece done a month or so before his death. It's still housed in a French museum, which is partially why I chose it.
I know van Gogh is Dutch-born, but France is the place where van Gogh's art really flourished. So I think he'd consider that his home more than the Netherlands.
Dr. Gachet is the man who treated van Gogh in his final days.
The title is what van Gogh told the prostitute to whom he gave the severed piece of his ear.