October 17th, 2003

elijah

one last post...

And then I go to work.

While browsing the Glass Onion archive for Wes/Spike stories last night, I found a few things. One is a story by minim_calibre, Dark They Were, which I hadn't read before and just been recced on a mailing list. It's dark; hence the title--truth in advertising. It's also succinct and searing. Yowch.

Then I stumbled across something I just had to stop and read, because there aren't too many Smallville/Buffy crossovers around, and this was Lex/Spike. There are two stories, original and sequel--I've only read the sequel so far. This morning I went and tracked down the first installment. Haven't read it yet. You'll probably want to read them in order: (1) Change of Pace, (2) Change of Space.

"Change of Space" was interesting as a crossover because it does something I don't normally see; it works within canon timeline--season five BtVS--and adheres tightly to the character arc you'd expect to see for that period, resisting the inclination to diverge. Lex keeps urging Spike to pay attention to him, and as you read, you're torn between echoing him ("Get your groove on, Spike, and for god's sake go with him!") and the growing realization that no, Spike can't and you wouldn't want him to, not really. He's completely focused on the events unfolding in late season five, which he's too caught up in to blow off; he barely even *sees* Lex, who is an unwanted distraction. There's something fascinating about that; it's like a prism of one-sided obsession, an outsider point of view that bends our perception of Spike and makes us realize the depth of his own obsession with Buffy and how the problems at that time are working on him. And again, it was just cool to see how the story played out--both men operating independently on their own terms, terms which couldn't be reconciled.

There were some things here and there in the story that I'd have changed; mostly minor off-key notes. But overall, very neat.
elijah

vampires, souls, and repression

More from curiosity than any desire to get provocative, I have to wonder: what is the difference between Spike and Angel, post-ensoulment? We know from canon that the first few years after the curse, Angel was suffering some form of torment or denial. It sounds as if he spent most of that time away from Darla and the others. He tried to rejoin her and spent, what--a few days? weeks?--snacking on wharf rats and villains. Then he leaves again, and almost a hundred years of conflicted history follow; we can infer that for most of *that* period he was isolated from other vampires and humanity (except for golfing with Sinatra or whatever the hell we're supposed to believe he did in Vegas), until he slipped and nipped some neck and entered his serious street-bum phase, which ended only with the revelation of Buffy.

Spike, post-soul, gets harrassed by the First--hard to tell if that began before he returned to Sunnydale or after, but a lot of his craziness can be attributed to a serious mindfuck at a vulnerable time. Then he starts to recover, gets all mopey and reticent; when the chip zaps him erratically it's removed. Then we learn that the First is *still* fucking with him and has implanted a musical trigger that is making him fugue out and kill people. The real cure for this only comes when they stick a beetle in his head to chew loose the trigger. When they do, he is reSpikified, puts his trophy coat back on, beats the crap out of Robin Wood, and resumes his swagger. Then he dies.

So, speculatively, how is Spike different than Angel, or is he? And what's going to happen with him?

(By the way, I'm assuming Angel spoilers up to 5.3 will crop up in comments, but I don't want to know anything beyond that. *Really, really* don't. Anyone who has spoilers for next week or later may not want to weigh in, actually; from my past experience, spoiler knowledge tends to shape people's comments even when they try to avoid it.)

I ask because I've been playing around with the idea of what would happen if, at some point well after Spike gets his soul back, he were to lose it again. Would he revert in a big, bad way like Angel to Angelus, or is his personality more integrated? He went to *get* the soul, so isn't it possible we'd see very little obvious change? Not right away, I mean; my speculation is that for Spike, the loss might not immediately sweep the rug out from under him. Ties of loyalty and love, a heroic self-image, pride, even the weight of habit--all these things might keep him on the straight and narrow for a little while if the circumstances were right. He *would* backslide, especially without the chip to impose restraints; it might take a day, it might take a month, but I think he'd succumb to temptation eventually (at least in the most likely scenario, and despite my redemptionista leanings). But I like the idea that he could hold it together by sheer, ferocious will long enough for friends and comrades to stick the soul back in.

But Angel, I think, represses his demon so hard that when his soul goes, he cuts loose; he's like a jack-in-the-box springing free. We've seen him beige, of course. But I think his personality is different enough from Spike's on some level that, even when beige, he is far, far from reaching Angelus's black depths, the demon's passion for violence and sadism.

That doesn't make Spike better than Angel (though it might make Spike better than Angelus, in the sense that "better" means less ruthless). Again, I think it's just that he may be less repressed, with a more integrated default personality. But it's an interesting, possible difference.
elijah

dude.

If you have read Donna Tartt's "The Secret History" and want to read some brilliant literary fan-fiction, you should click and pounce like a tiger on Artemis, Apollo, Orion by Pares (kormantic). I love that book--when restless during writing, I turn to that book and open it at random like some kind of Bible, just to study its astonishingly elegant sentences. (The book is a weird hybrid mix of high- and low-brow; I've always let it set a certain bar for writing, high but not so far out of reach that I feel discouraged by using the author as a role model even if she did go to a tony college, spend six years writing the thing, and get a six-figure advance, all at a precociously young age. And, er, yes, I still have a ten-year-old copy of her Vanity Fair profile and have memorized her particulars. Competitiveness makes me weirdly obsessive about some things.) But Pares gives us exactly the backstory of tangled, humid relationships we don't get a chance to see in the book itself, which is entirely filtered through Richard's (the outsider's) POV. It's like a secret history of "The Secret History." How meta-cool is that? *g* Plus she keeps level with Tartt's own style and mad writing skillz, and I'm amazed and impressed. I'd never have dared that. It's just so cool.

You shouldn't read the story if you haven't read the book first, though; spoilers within.
elijah

apology.

As I was riding the bus home it occurred to me that suggesting people who are aware of upcoming Angel spoilers shouldn't comment on my recent post was maybe kind of rude; and of course because I was riding the bus home I couldn't immediately post and say that, so it chafed at me for forty minutes. But now I can apologize. Thank christ. So, er, anyway. Anyone can of course post comments speculating on Spike's arc & soul & stuff like that. I just don't want to be spoiled is all.

I have nothing else to say...except that whatever happened to that paid icons thing? Did I miss something or have we been on the verge of getting that functionality for three months now? I am still waiting itchily for my chance to put up 10 more icons.
elijah

Dude, part 2.

Oh my god--how could I have fogotten that Wes was in a wheelchair in Angel season 2? Spike. Wes. Eeeee!

Also, I recently rewatched all those really steamy Wes/Lilah scenes--not to mention the episodes they came packaged in--and I think I melted some small but crucial part of my body that I don't think can regenerate. I'd forgotten how jaw-droppingly guh they were. The scene where Wes obliquely tells Lilah to take off her panties during a meeting, and the one where he tells her to shut up and she says "Make me" with so much relish that it makes sweat break out on your skin as if you've eaten a chili pepper and then how Wes begins going down on her as we...cut...to the next...scene. And all try to remember to breathe.

And now--*now*--I am watching Lindsey strip off his lawyerly skin and put on his shitkickin' boots in preparation for beating the shit out of Angel. And *that* scene, of that hammer-wielding, sweet-ass, shit-stomping devil boy--that takes about two years off my life, exploded away by the sheer power of squee, but those were years that I probably would have spent in my own wheelchair, drooling and eating creamed corn, so no great loss. (He whupped on Angel *one-handed*! The sledgehammer made those lovely *smashing* sounds!)

Oh, and now Angel has rescued Wes from the Skilosh (this is "Epiphany" I think) and they're driving along in Angel's convertible and Wes is deliving yards of exposition with dry, perfect diction while Angel keeps interrupting with awkward compliments offered in a self-effacing way, hoping that Wes will forgive him without needing an explicit apology. Hee.

It's really amazing how much Wes's pre-scruffy prissiness was defined solely by the Worst Haircut Ever and a stiff, vaguely sarcastic tone. (And the sweater vests!) Also, his frown, I think. He frowned in a certain way then--pinched brow--and held his mouth differently; whereas when he went Dark Wes, my impression is that the basic cast of his features shifted into an attitude of such deep cynicism that he looked calm, almost Zen, the way that certain Hong Kong action heroes look in highly operatic "heroic bloodshed" martial arts movies. A very John Woo style of dark heroism.

God, Wes talked so differently back then too, in earlier seasons: at a higher pitch, forming sounds and words within his mouth rather than from the depths and back of his throat. (I know there must be a proper linguistic term for those two types of vocal delivery.) Dark Wes has a kind of low, rough, sexy murmur thing going on, not quite a slur, but the words are more drawn out--delivered with level care, with a gravel quality. Basically, I think he's speaking more slowly.

Ooh. Now he's trading a high-five with Gunn and giving the Sweetest! Smile! Ever! I must stop typing and focus on the squee.

ETA: Listening to Angel's speech to Kate at the end of "Epiphany" is fascinating and rather disturbing when you compare it to where he is now, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. And then there's Angel saying to Wes: "I want to work for you." And his willingness to efface himself for his friends, including Gunn, and--cutting for Angel 5.3 spoiler-- Collapse )