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Fic: Do You Believe?

Title: Do You Believe?
Author: Rebcake
Word Count: 4102
Rating: PG-13 (some naughty words)
Characters: Buffy, Spike, Willow, Giles, Joyce, Xander
Warnings: Offscreen Buffy/Riley. Pretty much canon. Spoilers through Season 4.
Disclaimer: I disclaim to all and sundry that I didn't invent these people! They're peculiar!
Summary: When Buffy goes off to college, the magic just won't stop. How does she deal with the fallout from each, increasingly troubling, spell? And, why is her love life so screwed up?

Now available as a podfic, courtesy of constance_b!

A/N: This is my entry in the Fall 2008 round of seasonal_spuffy. Thanks to enigmaticblues for making that community happen. Beautiful banner created by the always wonderful alwaysjbj. Because It's Wrong by mahaliem very directly inspired my take on the fallout from the body switch (although it's much hotter than mine), and made me think about what else might've fallen between the cracks. This story isn't beta'd, except by MiAmor, who isn't tough enough. This is a fill-in the blank between episodes fic, from Buffy's POV. I'm working on another, rougher version from Spike's POV, but I probably won't get it into shape to post today. Feedback and concrit welcome!


Season 4 episodes used in the making of this fic:
4.5 Beer Bad
4.9 Something Blue
4.12 A New Man
4.16 Who Are You?
4.17 Superstar
4.18 Where the Wild Things Are
4.21 Primeval
4.22 Restless




After the first enchantment of her freshman year, Buffy didn’t hate magic. Yet. After all, no real harm done, except to Parker, who totally deserved it. Not that she ever would have damaged him, had she not been bewitched by the beer. But she had, and she did, and she couldn’t really work up a good guilt about it, either. Jerk.

*


After the second spell, she was starting to be concerned.

“Willow, I know you’re trying to block, but did anything go the way you wanted it to? I’m just asking ‘cos this magic stuff seems sort of, I don’t know, tricky? Like, the way the genie in a story gives 3 wishes, but it’s always a trick? Am I way off base here?”

“Well, I am a little less upset about Oz, but that’s just because I feel so guilty about everything else. The one bad is pushing out the other bad, so it’s still bad, but it’s a less crippling bad. So: maybe? But not really.”

“I think we’re all really lucky that D’Hoffryn guy was so reasonable about letting you go. If he had been a hard-ass about it, Giles would’ve been walking me down the aisle with a white cane right about now. I’m not sure I even want to think about the sort of ceremony Xander would have had!”

“Buffy! Please! I don’t want to have to go buy any more chocolate chips for a while! I’m really, really sorry! It won’t happen again, I double pinky swear!”

“It’s just that there’s something I’m … worried about. You have to promise that this is just between us, okay?”

“Double pinky.” Willow wiggled both digits.

“It’s just that there might be some … lingering effects. You know.”

Willow shook her head. “There shouldn’t be anything. I mean Giles’ eyes are right back where they were, and Xander isn’t being chased by any demons, except Anya, and you and Spike practically aren’t speaking, so …” She noticed Buffy fidgeting and looking at the ceiling. “Ooooooh. Ohmigod. Really? Are you sure?”

Buffy shrugged. “Well, I definitely don’t want to marry the guy, but he’s sort of … distracting. It’s probably nothing.”

“I could do some research, see if there’s a spell that’ll tamp down …”

“No! No, no, no, no, no. No more magic. Nada. I’ll just … tamp all on my own, thanks. I’m sure it’s just a temporary thing. I’ll find something else to distract me. Don’t give it another thought. I mean that literally.”

*

After the stupid spell by stupid Ethan Rayne, she was no longer concerned. She was angry.

“I mean, a Giles without his sight is bad enough, but a Giles turned into a demon by his old friend Judas and slain by his own Slayer is like some Greek tragedy!” She knew this from her Intro to Western Civ core class. “This is bad, Giles. It was too close.”

“Yes, I quite agree. I was forced to rely on Spike for assistance. It’s a bloody wonder I survived at all.”

“Spike? He helped you?”

“Well, yes, with some financial incentive. I suppose I should be grateful for his hidden talents, even if they do come rather dear.”

“Hidden talents? Spike has hidden talents?” She started to mentally wander off, but then tamped.

“Yes, it was rather surprising. It seems he has a facility for demon languages. Conversational demon language, at any rate. I’m not sure how much help he’d be with written translation,” he mused, picking up a dusty tome with incomprehensible scratchings on the binding. “I suppose a person is bound to pick up a few things after more than a century in the world. Although, I sometimes wonder if there isn’t more to William the Bloody than his intemperate posturing would indicate.”

“More what? More hot air? Or, cold air, in his case. Spike seems pretty easy to figure out, to me.”

Giles put down the book and settled at his desk. He took his glasses off, and tapped the earpieces against his teeth, organizing his thoughts.

“When he was staying here, after we let him out of the bath, he always seemed to have the television on, unless I hid the vile thing. However, I think he also did a fair amount of reading, when no one was around to catch him at it. Interesting choices, too. Waltham’s Compendium, The Lives of the Ether Gral, Prophetic Verses from Sanduey, a wide variety really. He was careful to put things back, but I am very aware of the volumes in my collection. I wonder if our Spike has an intellectual streak that he keeps well hidden?”

Buffy snorted. “If so, I want him on my team next time we play Hide-n-Seek.” She blushed pinkly. “I mean, because he must really be good at hiding things.” She blushed redder.

Giles, his glasses still in hand, didn’t notice Buffy’s difficulty. “I believe I will sound him out, as it were. Perhaps give him some encouragement to make himself useful in the fight against the forces of darkness. Perhaps he would welcome some purpose in his life, now that he isn’t able to pursue his former wicked ways.”

“Good luck with that,” muttered Buffy, trying not to think about his wicked ways. “I’m still worried about all this magic flying around, Giles!”

“Right. I’ve done an analysis of the more troublesome magicks that we’ve faced, and I find that with the capture of Ethan, we’ve defeated or contained virtually all current major magical threats. I don’t think we need to worry ourselves unduly.”

*

Buffy violently disliked magic. With a fiery passion, matched only by her violent dislike of one Faith Lehane.

She did a handspring over a headstone, which was rougher than it looked on top and bit briefly into the heel of her hand. She landed behind the fleeing fledge, and poked her stake smoothly between the 4th and 5th ribs. She stepped back from the dust and inspected the scrape. Not even enough damage to bother with a bandage. She felt his approach before she heard it, not that he was trying to be stealthy. Her evening was complete. Not.

“Slayer.”

“Spike.”

“Did Dudley help you out with your little problem?” Spike asked, stopping just a little too close.

“Who? What are you talking about?” she replied, fighting the urge to back up.

“Seemed pretty pent up at the Bronze last night. Had to take a guess, I’d say you were deeply dissatisfied.” He fished around in his pockets while he spoke. “Must be hard for a passionate thing like you, being stuck with a bumbling farm hand like that.” He produced his cigarettes and lighter.

“Spike. I wasn’t at the Bronze last night …” He thought she was passionate?

“No?” He leaned in closer, his voice dropping. “Didn’t give me a little speech about the wonders of those Slayer muscles of yours, then?”

Buffy choked, “What! I’m gonna kill her . . ." but Spike was on a roll and didn’t stop.

“Well, missy, how about vamp muscles? Vamp stamina, vamp experience, vamp willingness to make the wrong just right? How about that, then, you little cock-tease?” He lit his cigarette with an air of triumph. Oh god. She couldn’t afford to think about any of what he was saying.

“SPIKE! It wasn’t me at the Bronze last night. It was the other Slayer! And I’m gonna kill her!”

He cocked an eyebrow. “Looked like you. Smelled like you.” He smiled with his tongue tucked behind his teeth, flicking his eyes over her appreciatively.

“Yeah, well, it was an amazing simulation, because she stole my body! While she was slutting it up all over town, I got to fight off a bunch of Council goons who thought I was her.”

His smirk faded a little.

“Yeah! She had a great night! Threatened my mom! Slept with my boyfriend, slimed all over my . . . vampire! I wonder who else she . . . touched? Now I’m gonna have to go get tested!”

He snorted.

“Yeah, it’s hilarious! If those Council guys had got me, you’d be crying about losing out on that 3rd notch in your Slayer belt. Bet you’d be all humiliated that they did your job for you.”

He laughed mirthlessly. “Slayer, I am an amateur compared to those wankers. Killed two Slayers over the course of a century. Have any idea how many the Council got? During that same time, just say? At least a dozen, that I know of. Between that test they do, and plain ol’ run of the mill assassination? Hardly left any for an enterprising young vamp trying to make a name for himself. It’s a scandal.” He took a drag and watched her carefully.

Buffy realized that he was speaking the truth, but she didn’t want to face the magnitude of such a horrific threat. She chose to focus on the immediate non-threat, instead.

“You’re disgusting, Spike. It figures all you’d care about is the hit to your body count. I can’t believe I’m still talking to you.” She turned to leave.

“Buffy.”

She halted when she heard her name. He’d rarely called her that since Willow’s spell. She stood still, but she didn’t turn around.

“Just saying, the Council isn’t your friend, Slayer. Rupert’s alright, he’s his own man, much as it pains me to say it. They come around again, you’ll be in more danger than you ever were with me.”

“What do you care, Spike?” she bit out. He was silent for a moment.

“Didn’t say I did. Maybe it’s your little body-buddy that’s got me all concerned. Seemed like a goer.”

Buffy spun around, and sure enough, he was bouncing on the balls of his feet and doing that thing with his tongue.

She nodded, once, and continued out of the cemetery. She was hurt. Faith had hurt her, Riley had hurt her, and now even Spike had hurt her, though she wasn’t sure how, exactly. Pushing down her feelings, she tried to work through what he had said.

Where had those wet works guys gone when they’d left town? She hadn’t thought about it, once she’d got her body back, but they didn’t seem the types to just say, “Ah well, that didn’t work out, might as well head back to Merry Ol’.”

What she hated most about this? Now she was worried about Faith!

*

Magic was out to get her. It was getting completely ridiculous.

This time she had been reduced to a mewling proto-Slayer, dependent on Jonathan (Jonathan!) to do her job. It was almost worse than the Cruciamentum, because this time it was her mind that had been messed with. Of course, the betrayal aspect of the Cruciamentum was blessedly missing, but thinking about that just lead to thinking about Riley’s betrayal during the last stupid, goddamned spell! She had let Jonathan (Jonathan!) talk her out of her completely righteous, um, discomfort about that, but it was back, baby, with a vengeance. It was a good thing Anya was retired. God! Things had been going so well with Riley until the jailbait/jailbird/jail-something had stirred up the crap. Now things were “all better” between them and she felt even worse!

At least she’d gotten her slaying together in time to defeat Jonathan’s (Jonathan’s!) monster. Admittedly, with  Spike’s help. Sort of. He had given her a location, after all. After she’d threatened him. That had been sweet. He’d been all in her space, with the innuendo and the dirty promises. She was sure she remembered some dirty promises. Anyway, something had clicked while she was processing his . . . well . . . his blatant disrespect, and then: bam! She had a little bit of the Slayer back. She got right into his space, had him up against the wall, even, and laid it out for him. She felt a little tingly, remembering it. Oh crap. Time to tamp.

*

Damn it all to hell! Buffy (finally, irrevocably, absolutely) hated magic!

The whole year had been one long “how can we mess around with Buffy’s mind, body, and/or soul” magic spell. She was tired beyond the telling of being the puppet of every Merlin, Glinda, or Harry to come through Sunnydale. The latest one was a perfect example of how her free will was being compromised with every wave of a sage smudge. Well, okay, it had been poltergeists this time around, but the end result was just the same as always: Buffy got screwed. Literally, this time.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like Riley. She did. She just wasn’t sure how much, and being locked in his, um, embrace by a bunch of horny ghosts wasn’t making things any clearer.

She stood outside her mother’s house, weighing her options. It was pretty late, and she didn’t want to scare her mom. But she didn’t want to deal with Willow’s “understanding” face, either. Especially since Willow really didn’t understand. Buffy did not want to explain it to her, either. She wasn’t sure she could explain it. Staying at Riley’s was completely out. She had spent way too much time in his bed, already.

She shuddered and sniffed, catching a whiff of something familiar. She charged around the side of the house, and sure enough, there he sat, smoking, as if he had every right to exist!

“Spike! What the hell are you doing here?” she whispered, loudly.

He looked at her calmly. “Having a fag.”

“Why are you doing it on my mom’s porch?!”

“Being a good guest. Don’t wanna smoke in the house, do I?”

“Guest! Since when?”

“Oh. Hello Buffy. I didn’t expect you tonight,” said Joyce, peeking out of the kitchen door with a smile. “I thought you were at a party. Spike was just telling me about the interesting music they play at those things. It sounded like fun.”

“Yeah,” Buffy grumbled. “It was a laugh riot.”

“Why don’t you come in and have some hot chocolate with us, Buffy? It’s almost ready. Or, would you rather have some popcorn?”

Buffy was completely lost. Had she wandered into the Twilight Zone? She hurried into the kitchen, closing the door on Spike, still smoking on the porch.

“What’s going on here, Mom? You do know that’s Spike, right? Evil?”

“Yes, Buffy, I know that’s Spike. He comes by on Saturdays for a nightcap, sometimes. And yes, he’s tremendously evil. Or so he keeps saying. Right before he thanks me for my hospitality.” Joyce stirred the chocolate on the stove.

“Mom, do not be fooled by the Eddie Haskell manners. You can’t trust Spike!”

“I know that, Buffy. I’m not trusting him, I’m visiting with him. It’s not the same thing. Now, I know you didn’t come over here to lecture me. So, are you going to tell me what’s the matter?”

Busted.

“Did something happen at the party?” Joyce asked shrewdly.

“Just the same old, Buffy’s under a spell and not in control of her own actions, thing. Sometimes I hate this town.”

Joyce gave her a hug and went back to stirring. “I won’t say I told you so,” she teased.

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Thanks. Really, Mom, it’s getting beyond ridiculous, the number of spells and things that get to me lately. It’s almost like being…” She hesitated. “Raped,” she finally said.

Joyce dropped the whisk. “Buffy! Oh my god! That’s terrible! Does Mr. Giles know?”

“Oh yeah. He knows. It’s not much better for him. He’s had his fair share of the badness. Funny thing, even Spike has. Tonight, though, it was just too much. I was not able to stop doing what I was doing, and it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing.”

“Was it a dancing spell? I remember some stories about those.”

“I wish. I can’t really talk to you about the details. But there’s this guy I’ve sort of been seeing, okay? I’m not really sure about him, though. I don’t know if I want to get too involved, even though he’s nice and everything. But the spell tonight? It sort of took the decision away from me. Of course, now that the spell is over, I’ve still got to decide how I feel, but I doubt he’ll see it that way. I’m sure he thinks it’s all hunky-dory in Buffyland.”

“Buffy. I know you don’t need me to tell you this, but you have to follow your heart. There is nothing worse than making a romantic decision based on other people’s expectations.”

She was interrupted by the hissing sounds of the chocolate boiling over. “Oh, shoot! Buffy, can you tell Spike there’s been a delay? I’ve got to start over now,” she huffed to herself.

Buffy went outside. Spike had moved to the back fence, where he was flicking his butt into the alley. She didn’t want to wake the neighbors, so she walked over to talk to him, instead of yelling across the yard.

“Mom says to tell you it’s going to take a little while. Why are you all the way back here?” she wondered.

Spike didn’t look at her. “Was giving you and your mum some privacy, yeah?”

“You were? That’s … decent.”

He looked affronted. “Oh, right. Now it’s insults! Fine! Know what? You smell like a cathouse, Slayer.”

“What!”

“Almost had me fooled. Didn’t think you had it in you. Playing like you were too pure and good for a bit of rough. Guess I know what kind of a girl you are after all.”

Pop!

She didn’t even know she’d done it. But there was Spike, struggling to get to his feet, holding his nose, blood trickling down his lip. He gave her a look of pure hatred.

“My regards to Cardboard,” he sneered. “Guess he has bigger knackers than I credited, putting it to such a sket.” He stormed off down the alley.

“What’s a sket?” murmured Buffy, not really caring. She walked in a daze back to the house. Joyce was still mopping up.

“Spike had to take off, Mom. Is it okay if I stay here tonight?”

“Of course, honey. Can I get you anything?”

“No thanks. I think I’m going to take a bath and just turn in. It’s been an epically long night.”

As Buffy soaked in the tub, she wasn’t sure she’d ever feel clean again.

*

This sucked. Riley was missing, Spike was Benedict Arnold, the Initiative was about to go nuclear, and all they had for her was magic: the bane of her whole year.

“Are you guys sure about this? Can’t we just steal a couple more rocket launchers?” she complained.

“Buffy, this is our best chance,” said Giles. “Adam has formidable defenses, and with the sheer number of demon targets and humans in close quarters, it just isn’t practical to rely on armaments.”

“I know. I’m just not happy. Magic has totally kicked my butt this year, and this could be the cherry on top,” she grumbled.

“The cherry on top of your kicked butt?” grinned Xander. “That’s magic of a whole other kind, Buff.”

“Whatever. Let’s just do this thing.”

*

She couldn’t believe it! They had done the enjoining spell, combined all of their essences, and it had worked! Like a charm! A charm that worked! She had been Buffy-plus-3, not Buffy-puppet. She didn’t have anything to apologize for, be embarrassed about, or regret. She’d felt woozy for a sec, afterward, but that was a small price for total victory!

Adam was a “hunk-a-junk”, as Xander kept chanting as they made their way back to her house. They’d got the survivors evacuated, and made sure Graham had the situation under control, before deciding that a celebratory movie night was in order. Riley gamely offered to walk them to Buffy’s mom’s house, but it was clear that he was running on fumes, so they dropped him back at Lowell House. He hadn’t slept in his own bed for over a week, so he didn’t put up much of a protest.

Xander split off to go get the videos. Giles and Willow were chattering excitedly about the nuances of the spell. Buffy was enjoying the lack of magic backlash when she noticed that Spike was shadowing them. She dropped back, slowing, and he soon fell into step beside her.

“Thanks,” she said.

He looked momentarily shocked. “Yeah? I didn’t think … Know I was a git to believe that great monstrosity would help me with my little problem.”

“Look, Spike, I know that your motives are always gonna be suspect, at best. But you came through when it counted. We needed everybody tonight.”

“Fair enough. You’re welcome, then.” He looked entirely too pleased with himself.

“I’m still pissed at you, though. You’ve been a monumental asshole. You really got to us.”

“Sweet of you to say it, Slayer.”

“I’m not kidding. This stops now. I don’t want to threaten you to stay in line, but you’ve got to know what’s going to happen if this…” she gestured vaguely, “…keeps happening.”

“So, what? Spike plays the good dog? Don’t think so, Slayer. Make my life a living hell, it would. Fellow’s got a reputation to consider.”

“I’m not asking you to wear a collar, for god’s sake! It’s not a good look for you.”

“Oh, you might be surprised, Slayer.”

“Come on, Spike! This is part of what I’m talking about. You start with the flirty, then move right to the incomprehensible British putdowns. It’s confusing, and I still don’t know what a sket is.”

He looked abashed. “Didn’t mean it. Was too much to take, just then.”

She thought back to the night she’d been trapped in Riley’s room. “It was a spell, you know.” She didn’t apologize, wouldn’t apologize. It wasn’t like it had anything to do with him.

“Figured it out later, yeah. Still, isn’t for me to tell you what you ought not do, Slayer.”

“You’re right. It isn’t. I’ve got plenty of Buffy telling me that already.”

They walked on in silence for a while.

“Not gonna be a good dog,” he repeated stubbornly.

“Are you talking to me, or to yourself?” asked Buffy.

“Bloody hell! Don’t know, do I?”

“Tell you what. Stop trying to tear us down, and I’ll make sure you get all the demons you can kill.”

“Oooooh. Again with the sweet nothings, Slayer. Get a bloke all starry-eyed, if you’re not careful.”

“I’m feeling carefree, at the moment,” she said breezily. “We beat the bad guy. Movies await. For once, magic didn’t make me its bitch. Anything is possible.”

She socked him on the arm, playfully, and skipped up the walk to open the door for Giles and Willow. Joyce ushered them into the house.

Buffy stayed on the porch. She looked at Spike assessingly, as he rubbed the place where she’d punched him. Wasn’t there a saying about keeping your enemies closer than your friends? She came to a decision.

“Want to come patrol with me tomorrow night?”

He considered this. “Could do. Tonight was a bit of alright. All the demons I can kill, eh?”

“Yep. If you behave. Pick me up at 8.”

He raised one eyebrow, turned with a swirl of black leather, and stalked off. He was such a drama queen. She hoped she wasn’t making a huge mistake.



Epilogue, post-Restless

Of course, the enjoining spell did come with strings attached. Surprise, surprise. After they’d beaten back the nightmares, though, she felt even more convinced that she’d done the right thing. With the spell, and with the team. She was a Slayer for the modern age, not the stone age. Her strength was in her allies, however unlikely they might be.

She watched Spike finish off the Krevlach demon, thankful that her new blouse might live to see another day.

“Having fun?” she asked.

He sluiced off the goo from his hands, grinning madly.

“Oh, yeah, Slayer! Sure know how to show a fellow a good time.”

She barely blushed. “I try.”

“Know you do. It’s what makes you one of the great ones. Too bad about your rotten taste in men.”

“Hey! I’m still working through some pretty serious issues here with men and magic. Give a gal a break!”

He did that leering head-tilt thing for a moment, then straightened up.

“Break’s over, Slayer.”

“Huh?”

“I count five over by the North Gate. Shall we dance?”

As they sped over to the oblivious vamps, Buffy thought, for the first time in a while, that life was good.
 

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Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
goldenusagi
Mar. 25th, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
There was quite a bit of magic for Buffy to deal with, wasn't there? I loved Spike smoking on the front porch, and Buffy and Joyce's conversation, particularly this line: "And yes, he’s tremendously evil. Or so he keeps saying." Poor Spike has to keep reminding people!
rebcake
Mar. 25th, 2009 01:11 am (UTC)
Poor guy. When I started writing this, it was from Spike's perspective, but he was having such a terrible year that it just got me down. Plus, I really wanted to have everybody put their two cents in, and they seemed more likely to speak freely with Buffy. I was really happy with Joyce, here. She's talking to Buffy with a bit more of an adult perspective, but she's still doling out the mothering. Which poor Buffy really needed just then!

Thanks so much for commenting. All the other comments for this story are over at seasonal_spuffy (or Bloodshedverse, before it ate the story!). I had some edits I really liked on BSV too, durn it all!
goldenusagi
Mar. 25th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC)
Ah, I wasn't reading seasonal_spuffy last time. And yeah, the BSV situation is a bit frustrating.
pingback_bot
Apr. 6th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
Podfic, various authors. R rated, tops.
User constance_b referenced to your post from Podfic, various authors. R rated, tops. saying: [...] l text if you want more information about ratings/warnings. Season Four Title: Do You Believe? [...]
treadingthedark
Aug. 21st, 2011 05:12 am (UTC)
Loved this. SEcond time reading and it's seriously great!
rebcake
Aug. 21st, 2011 07:02 am (UTC)
¡Yay! You're so sweet! I'm pleased that you liked it. I had fun with it. It's a pretty accurate snapshot of my view of what's going on "behind the scenes" in S4. Metafic — it can be fun, too!

It's also available as a podfic, courtesy of constance_b:

http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/446917.html
red_satin_doll
Oct. 8th, 2012 06:44 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking a lot about S4 lately, and how it serves as a transition/lynchpin between the early and late seasons, and I knew that one theme was 'Willow going down the road of dark magic", but I hadn't analyzed how pervasive magic is throughout the season, especially in regards to issues of dubious consent and violation. Or rather, I had, but not as thoroughly as you've done here (I've tended to focus on the obvious examples: TYG/WAY, SB, etc) To which we could add Living Conditions (Buffy's very lifeforce is being sucked out of her by a demon disguised as a co-ed), Fear Itself (Buffy is nearly "gang raped" by a horde of demons coming out from the floor). We could even add, Riley having the chip implanted in his chest, and the creation of Adam, both of whom had no consent. Really, body violation and dubcons are all over the place this season - is it that pervasive in S3, by contrast?

And I am going to admit, when I was watching WTWTA, I really was not thinking about the spell on Buffy and Riley in terms of rape on a conscious level, but now that I've read it here, I feel like either an idiot or a very bad feminist. (Whedon really does love the violation trope, doesn't he?)

You do metafic so wonderfully, as I mentioned elsewhere - the meta is there, but it's like it's in wait, teasing and hiding, for me to find it, and then it's a wonderful treat when I realize what you're doing - that I'm in on the "joke" and not excluded from it. And it works as a STORY.

If I do end up writing the S4 fic meta I keep telling myself I will, is it ok if I link back to this?

ETA: Oh, and I loved the section with Joyce. She was almost absent that season and I disliked that quite a bit. The show could have used more of her, and likewise there's not enough Joyce/Buffy interaction in fanfic for me. (And why wasn't there more Joyce/Spike interaction on the show? that pairing was GOLD.)

Edited at 2012-10-08 06:47 pm (UTC)
rebcake
Oct. 8th, 2012 07:27 pm (UTC)
Link away!

After writing this, I came to see the theme of Season 4 as Magic vs. Technology which in turn seems like a metaphor for Female Power vs. Male Power. Both can be violating and destructive when unchecked, as we see. In the end, Magic triumphs over Technology ("You could never hope to grasp the source of our power."), but there is fallout, not the least of which is Willow's slow descent into darkness.

I don't blame you for not getting a "rape" vibe from WTWTA: It's pretty clear that Riley and Buffy are going at it like bunnies even before the spell kicks in, and they don't really seem all that bummed about it afterward. It was a violation, but the imprisonment part was probably the most troubling to them at that point. (I'm bending canon here by implying that Buffy was on the fence about Riley. She wasn't, though I do think there is a smidgeon of possibility that she was talking herself into "normal".) When you pick it apart, though, the rape culture assumption that "it's not rape if you're in a relationship" is right there. Of course, both Riley and Buffy were affected (roofied), so there's that degree of separation. The more complex case is when Faith rapes both Riley and Buffy. Yes, I would say that Joss is pushing the envelope on the number of ways that consent is negated in this season.

I agree more Joyce would have been a good thing! I did another one with lots more Season 4 Joyce, Defenseless, which is from Spike's POV, if you're interested.

Thanks for the compliments on my meta!fic tendencies. I just can't seem to help myself. \o/
red_satin_doll
Oct. 8th, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC)
I just finished Defenseless, as it happens! I left some comments on the Commentary track page.

When you pick it apart, though, the rape culture assumption that "it's not rape if you're in a relationship" is right there. WORD. You are SO right about that.

Of course, both Riley and Buffy were affected (roofied), so there's that degree of separation. Hmm, sounds familiar - spacefrakking, anyone? Although now we don't even know if the act was consensual or not, and Buffy takes all the blame for an act that may or may not have been out of her control. I think things have really regressed and devolved in the treatment of women's bodies in the Buffyverse. I guess the trope is so ingrained no one in the writers' room questions it (Andrew switches Buffy's body with a bot and suffers no repercussions?). It makes me sad to think about it.

I'm going to be looking at S4 with new eyes.
rebcake
Oct. 8th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
Well the spacefrakking differs from Where The Wild Things Are in a couple of important ways.

1. Buffy is not in a relationship with Angel.
2. Buffy is actually at WAR with Angel, though she just found out Twilight was Angel.
3. It's not ever clear if Angel is bespelled, if Buffy is bespelled, or if both of them are bespelled. Or, if so, who did the bespelling, exactly. The dog?

I can't even.

Dollhouse also delves deeply into consent issues. I actually really like it, but it is strong stuff.
red_satin_doll
Oct. 9th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
Very true about the differences between the two; I was thinking more in terms of the pattern of the trope, the repetitions of it. (Someone on lj did a meta that actually listed almost all the rape metaphors on BtVS (and AtS?) and reading it was pretty depressing. (I know I have it bookmarked, I'm just too lazy/busy to look it up.)

And - yeah. A dog...ohh-kay.

Here's my theory on "who betrayed Buffy in S8." Joss Whedon betrayed her. DUH.

I've heard about the consent issues on Dollhouse and have been wondering if I ought to watch it. (I heard S2 is better than S1?)
rebcake
Oct. 9th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
I really loved Dollhouse because it's not shying away from the hard stuff, like at all. No wonder it got cancelled. I'd recommend watching the whole thing, though it drags a bit until the network finally let Joss go for it in episode 6 of S1. Breathtaking. That episode led to my one and only non-Buffyverse fic. ♥
red_satin_doll
Oct. 13th, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
After writing this, I came to see the theme of Season 4 as Magic vs. Technology which in turn seems like a metaphor for Female Power vs. Male Power. Both can be violating and destructive when unchecked, as we see.

Good point. I think in a sense we're both right - Magic vs Technology with this overlay of psychology? (did you read beer_good_foamy's satire on S4, "what if the Scoobies had studied economics instead of pysch that season?)


I think you're also right about the male vs female power thing, which at first isn't that simple - Maggie is tied into the patriarchy; in S6 the Trio use magic as well as technology (with the shooting in SR it's easy to forget that, I think.) And YES to the idea that neither one is good or bad in and of itself, just like neither gender is superior to the other automatically (Darla contrasted with Buffy from the first episode). I think it's very smart to have both Willow and Warren going off the rails in S6, which enforces this.

Where I think it goes wrong however is forgetting that in S7. Once again we have a Little Bad (caleb) who is explicitly identified as a "woman-hater" (and the first time I watched it I thought, ok, we did misogyny last season, didn't we? I was watching it on Netflix all at a go, so perhaps I got a different impression than someone who watched it back in the day.)

And if Buffy could call the Initiative to deal with Spike's chip, why did she not call on them to help in the final battle? I thought that would happen because it made all kinds of sense. Instead she (or, the writers, because my Buffy is not that stupid) doesn't even do so and she sends - Anya and Andrew into battle? Half a dozen people to stop the Bringers (and whatever vamps might make it out of the Hellmouth)?

I did expect her to get the Initiative in to at least protect the "perimeter" of the school, to fight the Bringers and whatever evil things might come out of the Hellmouth, to provide backup to the spell, the new Slayers. And how COOL would that have been to have Riley and Sam answering to "General Buffy" and acknowledging her as their "superior officer"? That at least would have brought things full circle. (Has anyone written that fic? So should have happened.)

I agree more Joyce would have been a good thing! I did another one with lots more Season 4 Joyce, Defenseless, which is from Spike's POV, if you're interested.

Oh yes, I had read that one already and LOVED it! The interaction between Joyce and Spike was wonderful and as always, you got her spot-on.

I think when someone like yourself writes Joyce it's oftentimes more satisfying because you decide on a characterization and stick to it, rather than what the writers did (esp in S1), which is bat her around and make her basically whatever they need at the moment for the plot (JM said they did much the same with Spike): is she a loving, concern mother or a hands-off parent, is she a lush, is she a saint, is she the butt of the joke/an interference in Buffy's life, etc. I want a more consistent characterization of her that isn't always there.
rebcake
Oct. 19th, 2012 12:57 am (UTC)
I have another fic rec for you:

Legion by Elinora
http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/265611.html

Your fic idea is a good one! If you don't want to write it yourself, you should propose it at a challenge site. I feel like I've done my "Chosen" fic, but it's not like there aren't multiple "Something Blue" fics from lots of writers out there, right?

It's possible to have a consistent characterization of Joyce that includes all the things you mention. Real people and believable characters are complex and motivated more strongly in different ways on different days. The character I really have to work on is Dru, because it is too easy to make her child=like without making her erotically seductive or motherly or vicious or visionary. It's a tricky thing to include all aspects in one story.

That said, I do know what you mean about frustrations with some of the writers' choices. I suspect that one of the reasons that there is so much fic in the Buffyverse, is because the writing was full of just enough holes and bumps to make it a fun place to play. If it had been all sense-making all the time, it wouldn't be as tempting!
red_satin_doll
Oct. 19th, 2012 10:45 pm (UTC)
Me? Oh no no no i shan't be the one to write it! (I actually have a very small - ficlet? Drabble? of Buffy and Giles post-Chosen in mind, which I may have to actually write, but other than that - I spent too much time writing awful Moulin Rouge fanfic years ago. I'll stick to nonfiction, it's what I do best.)

But I wouldn't mind putting up the challenge, what site would you suggest? I am a member of a couple of "communities" but haven't posted on any, and that might be fun.

And YES to everything you say about the characterizations of Joyce and Dru. Dru (and Spike) electrified me when they showed up in School Hard, and you are so spot-on regarding the many facets of her personality, which is why she's so fascinating. I would have been happy to have more of her than they did (I haven't seen AtS but I know she's on some eps there.)

If it had been all sense-making all the time, it wouldn't be as tempting!

*nods*

And thank you again for the fic rec! I am wasting way too much time reading BtVS fanfic lately, but it's time pleasurably spent!

red_satin_doll
Oct. 21st, 2012 01:54 am (UTC)
I have another fic rec for you:

Legion by Elinora
http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/265611.html


Oh and thank you for the rec! I've read Elinora's story (a few times by now) and it's wonderful. As much as I love eat-it-with-a-spoon angst, I have a soft spot for post-Chosen/NFA fics that bring on the funny. brutti_ma_buoni's Crossing is another favorite of mine in that regard:

peaceheather
Jan. 7th, 2013 05:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you for bringing up the part where Riley was violated by Faith, too. The obvious violation is when she takes over Buffy's body and does with it as she pleases - but she deceives and uses Riley as well. Personally *I* haven't even explored the concept much, but once it was brought up to me I found it striking how very few of us have.
rebcake
Jan. 10th, 2013 06:13 pm (UTC)
For whatever reason, sexual violations of men aren't taken quite as seriously in our culture. Faith has a real track record in this regard: with Xander, with Riley — the implication is that there were more. I'm inclined to think that she is doing what was done to her, so it's understandable, but the emphasis in story seems to be on her "sluttiness" rather than the people (men) that she violates. It's weird. I say all this as someone who loves Faith, but man, is she messed up!
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