October 18th, 2003

elijah

thick, stewy brain

Last night I dreamed all *kinds* of weird Buffy shit; I know I did, but can't make my dreams cohere to memory. I hate that. The only one I recollect anything from is the one where I was watching a new two-hour BtVS special by Joss Whedon. It was like "Once More, With Feeling" in scope and ambition, but "Restless" in style. It was composed entirely of dream fragments that kept sliding one into the other, and it was fractured to the point of insanity--I kept trying to track the plot, and decided that I was to blame as the viewer; I must be nodding off, I thought, puzzling over why Whedon's storyline made no sense. I'll watch the tape later when I'm alone. Thematically Joss was exploring ideas of gender and sexuality; people kept changing romantic partners in a musical-chairs sort of way. At one point, two characters were about to go to bed, and they kissed, and then one pulls back and--hey!--presto, she's become someone else, and they kiss again, and then the other person pulls back and begins taking off a Giles disguise: wig, glasses, and false teeth are all removed in the manner of certain bad movie effects, you know the kind, where we're looking at Jodie Foster, and then a moment later we get Tom Cruise peeling off a Jodie Foster mask, and you roll you eyes and go, shyeahhh, okay. Anyway, under the goofy Giles trappings it was really Willow.

In the dream this was all very clever and funny and quasimeaningful of Joss.

So that'd be passive dreaming; unconscious dreaming. In the active dreaming area, I spent a while last night loosening my moorings and drifting out into the deep waters of wacky. I imagined Benton Fraser coming to Los Angeles and turning into a vampire. His backstory was a muddily conceived tragedy where Vecchio murdered someone and was killed himself, and Fraser couldn't bear to let his reputation take the fall even after his death, so he copped to the murder; he's arrested and goes on trial, all in a kind of walking half-zombie state of PTSD. Dief is also dead, killed in crossfire. Kowalski is there, but can't get through to Fraser on any level. When Fraser is convicted, it seems to snap him awake at last; in the style of Speranza's fabulous story Chicago's Most Wanted, he realizes he can't spend the next twenty years locked up in a cell, so he efficiently escapes as they're leaving the courthouse. He can't go to Canada--he feels cut off from its sanctuary--and decides that in order to avoid recapture he should move to the least likely place anyone would suspect him to go, a city so huge and terrible that he can get lost there. So, L.A.

Not long after reaching L.A. though, as he's settling into a marginal existence in some condemned building, with a night-shift diner job, he's slammed up against an alley wall and killed and turned by some random pair of vampires, who then drag him back to their pad, dump his body, and settle down to watch TV. Fraser wakes up in time, very dead, and...then here's the thing. Call me crazy. What if Fraser has always had a demon in him? A very literal demon. It possessed him in childhood, some evil spirit of the great Canadian woods. His grandparents helped him fight its influence with Native American rituals--young Fraser lying on the ground as tribal elders chant and wave smudge sticks across his body--and they were successful. His memories of all this become hazy; the demon is mostly dormant and when Fraser *does* wrestle with it, he assumes he's doing so in some spiritual or metaphorical way. He becomes so accustomed to its presence in him, it's like this huge elephant-in-the-living-room deal; one of those defining elements of your life that you come to take so completely for granted you never talk about it, barely even think about it--at least not in terms that might make you pull up short and say to yourself, "Now wait a minute..."

So when he's vamped, he *turns*, yeah, but all he does is shift into a new undead state of being, bringing both demon and soul with him, inextricably entwined. He's so very *Fraser*. Of *course* vamping won't change him. He wakes up, can't hear his heartbeat, is panicked, pale, and horrified, eyes haunted. "What have you done to me!" he asks, in as close to an angry yell as he ever gets. The vamps cheerfully fill him in on the whole fiend-of-darkness deal, too stupid to realize that by explaining how it all works they're signing their death warrants. "It's the greatest," one enthuses. "You never get sick, never die--I mean, you can get dusted, sure. Usual stuff--sunlight, holy water, big wooden stake through the heart--" Fraser glances off at the debris of their room, grabs a big piece of wood as the vampire natters on, shoves it in him, then neatly dispatches the other one.

So he spends a few months dealing with this turn of events completely alone; his existence reaches a new level of suck. He's staggered by how he's been cut off from humanity, by his new, damned condition--bloodsucker, creature of darkness. But he grasps that he's different, still a freak somehow. He doesn't entirely know what to do, has no one to turn to, so he just keeps on as before. Keeps his night job, keeps living in the squat he's made in the abandoned building, figures out how to get butcher's blood. And he kills vampires. First it's completely by chance; he comes across an attack in progress, stops it, helps the lady up as she babbles her profuse gratitude, sees her on her way. Then he begins to realize the implications, begins hunting demons. (And of course he still manages to foil the occasional mugging or rape during his wanderings.) He wishes he could enjoy his new superhero abilities more, but for him this is the dark night of the soul quite literally; he's so alone and terrified of what he's become that he gets the bare minimum of satisfaction from monster hunting.

So we switch POV, and one night here's Fred, Gunn, Wes, Spike--in my little AU, Spike went to Angel's after getting his soul late in S6 and has stayed there ever since. They're on some mission (Angel, meanwhile, off collecting a magical weapon or book), and they're downtown, in a public plaza at night; people sitting outside at tables, drinking coffee--like that one scene not long after Jasmine appears. And a woman stumbles into the plaza from an alley or parking lot screaming for help, and her vampire attacker screeches to a stop, looks around, and does a bolt. Spike is about to take off after him when this figure just whips by like the wind, giving chase. The A.I. crew all blink and look at each other in confusion, then Spike sets off on Fraser's heels and the others follow at a less vampiric pace.

Because I am, yes, a big cheesy dork and this is how I entertain myself inside my head, I now imagine a long, lunatic chase scene through the city set to the brilliant theme music of "Dief's in Love." The bad vampire is running, Fraser is chasing him, Spike is chasing *both* of them. Vamp reaches a building, lunges up the fire escape and flows up to the roof, Fraser following, Spike following--and they all race from roof to roof in due South style, with crazy leaps and rolls, culminating in one huge jump back to the ground--one, two, three, bang!--then they're running into traffic, straight down the middle of a road, vehicles veering out of the way as the three of them weave and roll across car hoods, hurtle over guard rails, etc, and it just goes on and on and on until Fraser eventually catches his man, dusts him, and turns away...just in time to face Spike. They have a mutually puzzled showdown that resolves itself when Spike says, "I think we need to have a little talk."

From there, of course, the A.I. gang adopts Fraser. He's a complete natural for the whole "helping the helpless" gig; plus, once he begins to adjust back to a semblance of normal (for him, normal), he charms the hell out of everyone--discussing art and literature with Angel, bonding with Wes over research and indexing and bibliophilic esoterica, wowing Gunn with stories of the great Canadian north and survival lore. Fred and Cordy just think he's a doll.

Spike, in this story iteration, is newly souled himself and trying hard to deal with it; he's rough around the edges, moody. It should be highly unlikely that he and Fraser would hit it off, except that Fraser gloms onto Spike in that unswerving, inexplicable manner of his and shows no intention of letting go. Spike is grudging at first, or tries to play it off like he is, but he likes patrolling with Fraser--he thinks Fraser's an absolute loon and often stops to marvel at him, trying to wrap his mind around his nutty logic. And he simply, honestly admires the way Fraser runs and leaps into a chase; they bond in a largely unspoken way over their shared joy of running down bad guys. They cat-and-mouse their prey, tag-team the poor suckers. Of course, Fraser pretends he's just doing a job; dusts vamps with dispassionate force. But, given companionship and a clear purpose, he's getting keen about exercising his abilities to their fullest.

He never vamps out. He exercises rigid control, chooses not to.

Over time, it becomes obvious that Fraser has an uncanny knack for bringing Spike down off the ledge whenever he gets crazy--when he's ranting at the A.I. gang, going on a tear, trying to launch a bender of drinking and self-destruction. Spike always storms off, Fraser always follows, and no one really knows what happens, except that Spike's manic disappearing acts aren't lasting as long as they used to, and neither are his black funks. He's drinking less, less prone to lashing out and abusing them. He actually listens to Fraser when he won't listen to anyone else; like, he snarks in the middle of some mission briefing, for example, but then Fraser says something in his calm way and Spike is defused, sometimes even becomes downright agreeable. He is transparently ready to be swayed by whatever Fraser might have to say; obviously respects him.

And of course the first time Fraser quotes poetry to Spike in the middle of some private conversation, Spike will just stare at him all starry-eyed. After that he's pretty much Fraser's besotted bitch.

Endearing displays of loyalty and friendship follow, and eventual sex. The end, because my gut cries for lunch.
elijah

borrowing a cup of happy

The TWoP Buffy boards mostly bore me. I've only ever gone for the non-episodic threads, because I can rarely stand to hear people talking about the show in that kind of forum. And after the mods killed the badfic thread (under the most annoying possible circumstances) I got disgusted and stopped lurking as much. Half the time the TWoP moderators have the amusing knack of cutting short budding idiocy; the other half they just seem to bitchslap whoever's handy for the pure sake of killing the joy. These days I just go to see what's on the fanfic thread, but it's not getting the traffic it used to.

But today I was looking through a thread on people's favorite things about the show. (Though in fact, I actually started reading here and worked back.) It cheered me up rather a lot. People giddy with sharing the joy, not a whole lot of negativity. Nice change of pace.

I'm so soul-suckingly bored. I've gotten into a terrible habit of sitting on my couch with my laptop, with the TV in line of sight, and just dicking around. It's hard to type from a reclining position except in short, painful bursts, which makes it the perfect slump for writing posts and comments but not working on stories.

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Yeah, whatever.
elijah

murmur, babble

I've never seen "The Elephant Man" in full but it seems to be cycling through on cable. I was watching the scene in the opera house just now, toward the end. First I was watching without sound and there was this montage of absolutely insane shots and I was like, what the fuck is this, and then I remembered, oh yeah, David Lynch. I liked that one little scene--seeing John enjoy the music, and receive the standing ovation, and then afterwards how the doctor, played by Anthony Hopkins, was so courteous, so graciously giving of his kindness and friendship. Bullet-proof kink, big-time: the gentleman extending kindness to the monster.

What is that music that plays after the opera scene, when he's sitting alone in his room, at his desk with the tiny model of the palace, and he writes his name and so on? It continues right up to the end credits. I've heard it in a dozen different things; reused the way they reuse certain theme music in trailers of entirely different movies.
elijah

reveals

I'm just going to keep posting. I know someone will talk back eventually. My friends list can't stay silent forever.

So in filming there's this camera shot called a reveal, where for instance we're focusing on a reporter as she delivers her report directly to the camera, and then we pull back and maybe pan to the side and reveal that she's standing in front of a courthouse. I've heard this term used in fiction to describe plot revelations, but then again maybe I just made it up. I don't remember. I like the word. It sounds vaguely writerly and cool.

All my slashy fantasies progress toward a reveal; it's not the climax of the story--my fantasies rarely have those, or else have dozens that connect the narrative like beads on a meander. I suppose it could be *a* climax. But specifically for me the reveal is the moment when one guy demonstrates his feelings for another guy in front of witnesses; it's usually for the first time, and *usually* the witnesses notice it--though there's also a foreplay-like pleasure in working towards a full reveal by degrees, where friends see signs of affection that they don't fully recongize or understand. (E.g., Willow sees Xander be nice to Spike and misreads it as pity when in fact Xander is secretly a smitten kitten.) It's a coming-out moment, though in BtVS sometimes it's not so much a disclosure having to do with gayness as with other transgressive relationships that have previously been kept secret--vampire/slayer, vampire/human.

So you have Spike in some vulnerable state and Xander falls for him, and they're all sitting around Giles's living room one night doing mission prep and Spike is trying to be helpful and Buffy snaps at him; Xander's jaw twitches a bit but he doesn't say anything too outrageous, maybe makes a small, curt comment. General discussion picks up again, but Xander shifts closer to Spike on the couch, and stretches out his arm so that his thumb *just* brushes the edge of Spike's shoulder, back and forth. No one sees it except perhaps Giles, who glances up as he's sipping tea and freezes just for a moment, but he remains silent about it then, and his own reaction goes unnoticed by anyone else.

That's a classic reveal for me, because I can triangulate: I think about Spike's pang of anger and humiliation, Xander's simmering protectiveness and affection, and then I filter the scene through Giles's point of view and imagine how he reacts. And I wallow and savor it all and replay it perhaps dozens of times until I wear a rut in it and all the zing is lost, because I am a big freak! Yep, yep.

This actually gets done in stories quite a lot, and badly--in badfic, Xander would not play it cool, but stand up and yell at Buffy for being a cruel, heartless bitch and then he'd proudly declare Spike his boyfriend and Buffy would insult Spike at length, and then *everyone* would rip Buffy a new one, Willow disclosing that she knew about their secret passion all along, Giles telling her she needs to realize how hard Spike is trying to change, Spike striking a hurt and martyred pose, blah blah cheesycakes blah, until Spike and Xander leave in a huff to move into their new apartment and never speak to Buffy again, armored against the slayer's viciousness by their Deep True Love, which can also be True Love in the Face of a Heartless World, or The Love that Doesn't Just Dare Speak Its Name, But Sneers It Rather Loudly Too.

But then thing is, I *do* also like more extreme reveals, almost to badfic levels of excess, like where everyone is sitting around the Hyperion family room in front of a crackling fire at Christmas time, Wes and Spike like a pair of sleek cats in blue jeans and elegant shirts, cozily curled up together on a couch, happy and supported by their friends--their *family*. And then the Sunnydale crew arrives in the lobby seeking sanctuary from some big threat, room at the inn, and everyone comes out to greet them, all is going swimmingly, until Xander spots Spike and says, "What the hell is that useless piece of garbage doing here?" At once, the A.I. gang closes ranks with a noticeable chill and Angel takes one step forward, folds his arms and defends Spike in terse, flat terms as he never would have a year earlier, finishing by looking at Xander and saying, "Next person who disrespects him, there's the door."

Because you know, it's not like *Joss* is above that kind of thing; he just does it well.

I am still tragically bored.