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19 December 2003 @ 09:24 pm
unlikely pairing #4  
Giles/Riley: Blame wiseacress. Always blame Wiseacress! For she is the font of all Eeeeeevil! Or maybe Good. Good and twisted anyway.

Giles/Riley is an incredibly easy pairing to justify. You just need an entirely different show, actors, characters...and voila! viola! vole!

Yes, Giles and Riley go together like whiskey and milk, like peppermint and lemon. Mmmm, peppermon...*choke*.

In all seriousness, if we can pretend to be within a hundred miles of seriousness, you would have to scrap canonical Riley/Buffy entirely. Buffy starts college and launches into a series of romantic mishaps--Parker, some other one-date wonder, and then Riley, but with a twist. She discovers almost immediately that he's a commando, draws him into the Scooby club, shows him off to Giles. Riley is fascinated to learn about the council of watchers and when he reports back to his superiors at the Initiative about the whole slayer-watcher institution, he's appointed as liaison between the U.S. government and the council. For their part, the council turns out to be unexpectedly--even suspiciously?--keen to establish diplomatic working ties with the Yanks. They appoint their own liaison in Giles, who finds himself thrust into a new role he never anticipated, a prestigious and influential role. Just when he was feeling useless as an ex-watcher, he's got this cool new *thing*.

Buffy crushes on Riley for an episode or three, deciding that this is the *one*. Like her, he's fighting the good fight against evil, and yet he's got that whole clean-cut, wholesome thing going on; he's Joe Normal and she's a smitten kitten. She confides girlishly in Willow and they bend their heads together and plot how to rope Riley in, which even in the planning stages is a fait accompli, because how could he not fall for her Buffy charms? Pfft. That'd be crazy talk. They were made for each other, Willow says. Romantic heroes and partners in the struggle against tyranny! Like Ilsa and Victor Laszlo in Casablanca, except with demons instead of Nazis! Don't you mean Ilsa and Rick, Buffy asks dubiously. Ilsa left with Victor, Willow points out, unwittingly revealing a lot about herself to bemused fans by this casual choice of Victor over Rick. But Rick was her true love, Buffy says. I think you're over-analyzing, Willow says kindly. Besides, *you're* Victor. Buffy blinks. I am? Oh.

What she hasn't been noticing is how Giles has been getting a life of his own, and Riley seems to be lurking at its edges. When she comes over to Giles's apartment one night and walks in, she finds Giles relaxed on the couch playing his guitar in a mellow way, Riley sitting across from him in a chair, listening, and they're drinking and they look so comfortable with each other--when did that happen? Giles stops playing when she appears and it's a weird, awkward moment that Buffy brushes off as quickly as she can, because it simply does not compute. She asks Riley out in front of Giles, and doesn't see the tiny look they exchange, but Giles draws away silently to fix himself another drink as Buffy chatteringly dominates a conversation with Riley, despite little clues of discomfort and politeness he gives off. He turns her down very very kindly and she's confused.

This type of relationshippy stuff draws out for a few more episodes, subordinated to energetic A-plots, and then we get an episode like "Hush." Unknown to Buffy or any of the other Scoobies, Giles and Riley have, casually offscreen, started up a physical relationship, and it's only in this episode that Buffy finds out--she turns up at Giles's in the middle of the night after discovering herself to be mute, and he answers the door in his robe and pajama bottoms and his face is sharp and tense, as he's of course also just realized himself to be mute. And Buffy comes in with Willow, and they're both anxious, and Giles steps back and then Buffy sees Riley, standing there in the living room at three a.m., wearing sweatpants or maybe blue jeans, but nothing else--or he's just putting on his shirt.

She's absolutely shocked. And none of them can *say* anything to explain it, and that'd be the beauty of this twist, because the audience is forced to accept it; it just *is*. There's no room in the plot for the expected confrontational blather--shock! outrage! explain yourselves! No Gilesy stammering, except in silent pantomime. It looks natural, them being there, though. Or it will, in time, to fans who eventually rewatch the episode ten times and who are finally, a season or two later, able to work through their own issues and nod and say knowingly, yes, it makes perfect sense.

After this alternate "Hush" (which ends with Giles and Buffy sitting in his living room, unable to find anything to say to each other), the inevitable, difficult conversation is had. Riley is gay. Giles has been alone for a long time, recovering from his grief over Jenny with no outlet for his feelings, not even friends; alone in Sunnydale, he's been needing someone in his quiet way, and he isn't going to apologize for it, though he's of course sorry for the misunderstanding--her misplaced feelings for Riley. Buffy is embarrassed; she also realizes that Giles has never really shared any of his private life with her, and that she's been okay with that compartmentalization until this.

After a period of tension similar to the whole Oz/Xander/Willow/Cordy thing back in S2, Buffy and Giles re-establish their rapport and trust in each other, and Buffy lets go of her Riley crush and focuses her attention on someone else--Xander, maybe, or some new plot-foddery guy who ends out the season.

Riley, of course, dies at the end of season four in a tragic smelting accident.

No, no--not really. More likely, Riley just leaves Sunnydale for some reason or another, probably in season five, and Giles is forced to deal with another bout of unhappy solitude in the wake of his departure, though perhaps it's an amicable split and not as devastating as Jenny's death.

And then we leave this alternate universe and re-enter the normal canon timeline and the world ends in a rain of frogs, just as it did in mid-season five.
Katie M.katie_m on December 19th, 2003 09:37 pm (UTC)
They were made for each other, Willow says. Romantic heroes and partners in the struggle against tyranny! Like Ilsa and Victor Laszlo in Casablanca, except with demons instead of Nazis! Don't you mean Ilsa and Rick, Buffy asks dubiously. Ilsa left with Victor, Willow carefully points out. But Rick was her true love, Buffy says. I think you're over-analyzing, Willow says kindly. Besides, *you're* Victor. Buffy blinks. I am? Oh.

Ha! I am very much in love with this conversation.
day_jair on December 19th, 2003 09:45 pm (UTC)
That is fascinating! And I love how plausibly you set these scenarious up in the Buffyverse. This is my favourite out of the bunch so far, with Buffy/Xander running a very close second.

What truly captivates me about the scenario you describe above are the moments of quiet familiarity that don't compute for anyone else outside of Riley and Giles, those brief moments that people see and refuse to accept or strive to deny or are completely oblivious to. Like Giles having two cups of tea with everyone there and other people not Riley looking strangely at the extra mug before Riley takes it. Hmm...

You don't take requests by any chance do you? ;)
Anna S.: daniel_geekyeliade on December 19th, 2003 11:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :>)

What truly captivates me about the scenario you describe above are the moments of quiet familiarity

I think it's always the mundane details that sell an implausible plot. So I try hard to be mundane. (Just imagine me saying that in an earnest, stolid monotone with a wooden expression and vacant eyes. *g*)

What request did you have in mind, hmmm?
day_jair on December 19th, 2003 11:32 pm (UTC)
*rubs hands gleefully*

I'm tempted to put something absolutely bizarre just for the hell of it now. Larry/Willow! Principal Snyder/Mayor! Ick - I'll run for the bleach now. Did your mission to scour your brain of Van Wilder succeed?

If I were to request anything though, it would be Anya/Faith.

Brassy Hag: spikemiggy on December 19th, 2003 09:58 pm (UTC)
Oz/Spike! Oz/Spike!


Anna S.: angel_oz_gayeliade on December 19th, 2003 10:25 pm (UTC)
Dude. Oz/Spike is so *easy*, though. I mean, all you have to do is toss them in an Initiative cell together, you know? *g*

Well, okay. I guess it'd be a bit tougher than that. But the Initiative thing makes a good bond; give them both a chip, for example, and they would be natural if grudging allies for a common cause. Oz comes back and sticks around in season four, but Willow is already with Tara, or chooses her despite her angst for Oz and his wolf-chippy problems. No--cancel that. There's no Tara. Willow is back with *Xander*. And Oz is pissed, oh yeah, man. Because Willow and Xander are way more serious now, and Oz realizes that their feelings ran deeper than they'd let on before, that their childhood friendship was more fertile ground for an inevitable relationship and that his own briefer romance with Willow had just been one of those high-school things that seem like first, true love but are left behind with time.

So that allows Willow and Xander to stay firmly in the spolight as the show's core characters, gets rid of an extraneous (to *this* plotline) character, Tara, and lets Oz and Spike be supporting cast guys. They'd move in together, some ramshackle place (can I cannibalize Sidelines?), and Oz would go batshit crazy every full moon as the chip went off almost constantly and it's killing him, and Willow et al are truly torn up but it's only Spike who can understand and Oz, each morning after when he's reverted to human form, won't let anyone else but Spike near. He's nearly catatonic with the aftermath of the pain, and Spike starts to treat him like family. Makes a furious speech, even, when the Scoobs skeptically challenge his friendship--says that just because he's a vamp doesn't mean he has no loyalty; Oz helped him escape from the Initiative, saved his life (somehow), and he's vowed to fucking kill those Army bastards, wreak bloody revenge. He only gets to this point, of course, after a long trial period--he and Oz are like cat and dog, and it takes some while before Spike lowers his hackles and starts to feel tender. But he needs to have someone to protect, and Oz--poor, mindfucked, nearly crazy Oz--after a while starts to "read" to Spike's instincts like Dru, someone who needs looking after.

As characters, they'd hover on the periphery of several plotlines for a while, but Oz is the audience's real point of reference; we care about his fate, so eventually the arc would have to resolve itself with Oz, if not Spike, getting his chip out. Spike's big quasi-selfless act is to let Oz have the operation first, but the sole expert doctor dies afterwards at a demon's hands, leaving Spike still chipped. He's disgusted, but Oz is incredibly grateful. There's been a lot of cuddling going on--wounded, trembly Oz, unexpectedly tender Spike--and now Spike tries to blow Oz off, but Oz isn't having it, and soon after the dechipping adventure, he turns up in Spike's room, or maybe a rooftop, somewhere he's brooding, and says in his laconic way: "So I notice you have a thing for me." And Spike denies it with bluster, but Oz says, "It's okay." Long pause. "I kind of have a thing for you too." Chit chat about Spike's claim to evil, yadda.

For a long while they just have a "thing." Unresolved. UST. ("Do you guys have, like, a *thing*?" Willow asks uncertainly on one occasion.) We'd need more B- or C-plot machinations before it all came to a head; like Oz attacks Spike in wolf form and Spike has to beat him down and cage him and Oz is horrified at himself afterwards, but Spike's blase, like: oh pffft, please. And Oz, freakily worked up, breathes heavily, nearly in tears, and then throws himself at Spike, who is startled, but seems to be recovering nicely as they disappear floorward, offscreen, and we cut to commercial.

What would come afterward I'm not sure--maybe they could be the case evidence for am ambiguous marriage of good & evil. Either that or Spike is forced to get his soul again. Or dies. Smelting tragedy. What have you.
Anna S.: scary_girleliade on December 19th, 2003 10:28 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to note that I realize this is a bit shakier in terms of plausibility that perhaps some other pairings, but if I hadn't been so lazy I'd have worked on that. *g*
Anna S.eliade on December 19th, 2003 10:44 pm (UTC)
You know, the more I look at this, the less happy I am with this particular one, but that's what I get for carelessly hurrying and I must sit on my twitchy hands and let it be. Because my hands hurt! Hurty fingers! From overtyping! Must let them rest...sigh.
wisteria: buffy black and whitewisteria_ on December 19th, 2003 10:13 pm (UTC)
unlikely pairing #5

On the surface, Anna/Alanna seems quite an unlikely pairing, to the extent that it would occur organically to very few people. Upon further examination, though, the relationship makes perfect sense.

Canonically, these two have very little in common. Alanna is hardcore Spuffy, whereas these days Anna dabbles only occasionally. The latter woman's heart is with the slashlove, yet it's just not Alanna's thing (though she has publicly stated that she understands why it appeals to so many.) They have other factors working against them, including the relative lack of overlap on their friends lists, and -- not as trivial as it may seem -- the fact that they live in opposite corners of the United States.

Looking deeper, though, the relationship makes beautiful sense. Indeed, Alanna's name seems destined for a 'shippy acronym. The shared Buffyverse fannish tendency is also a bonus.

I see this relationship beginning in the tradition of fannishness, perhaps with stalking overtones. They would develop a doomed cross-country platonic romance, mostly consisting of Alanna fawning over Anna's fabulous unconventional pairings essays. Anna would resist the advances, though admittedly she'd be intrigued by Alanna's blatant worship of her. It would come to an eventual end when Anna got sick of Alanna obsessing over her.

I think this pairing has definite potential, no?
herself_nyc on December 19th, 2003 10:32 pm (UTC)
Re: unlikely pairing #5
What, no smelting?
Anna S.eliade on December 19th, 2003 10:39 pm (UTC)
Re: unlikely pairing #5
Eeee! You make me all blushy and shy and I am forced to bound off into the shrubbery like a nervously whiskered squirrel!

But if you feed me nuts I will crawl right up your pants leg and into your backpack.
ineke on December 19th, 2003 10:13 pm (UTC)
Riley, of course, dies at the end of season four in a tragic smelting accident.

I -- oh, I -- I am without words to describe the brilliance of that sentence. Tragic smelting accident! That should be adopted as the new Spinal Tap-type "oh, he died in a bizarre gardening accident" statement, big with the deadpan and nochalance.

Anna S.eliade on December 19th, 2003 10:38 pm (UTC)
You are kind! (Especially considering the utter delightfulness of your own writing style, which I much glomp on and admire.) I think I stole the smelting idea from Austin Powers, though. *g*
witlingwitling on December 19th, 2003 11:14 pm (UTC)
Ah, yes. Of course, this is exactly how it happened. So handy to have it laid out in summary form like this.

Honestly, these are so great. I love seeing how you spin the arcs and reposition the characters. If I were ME staff (mwahahaha!) I'd be at the very least reading and poaching your LJ entries. If not hiring you outright. Because you have Vision.

::makes Nell-inspired "Vision" gesture, mooing sound::
witlingwitling on December 19th, 2003 11:16 pm (UTC)
Meant also to say, I didn't mean to disparage the good ship Giley. Riles. Whatever. drc1 pointed out the lively little G/R segment you did in March, and all I have to say is, hummina.

Anna S.: kandinskyeliade on December 19th, 2003 11:20 pm (UTC)
Oh lord, please--don't even worry for a moment. Pffft! I don't exactly consider that little scribble a pinnacle of plausibility, you know. *g* And Giles/Riley is not my sooper seekrit slash ship. In fact I am quite sure I never gave it another thought after writing that snippet. (Er, up until now.)
yonmei on December 19th, 2003 11:37 pm (UTC)
Aw! I like that. Especially Riley and Giles being discovered in "Hush". Perfect.
when regiment is gone: Giles pensive pppkindkit on December 19th, 2003 11:41 pm (UTC)
You are cruel.

Giles/Riley is a pairing to make the angels weep. And yet your outline is so brilliant.

If you're taking requests, I'd love to hear how you'd manage Giles/Wesley.
light of other days: brokeniliadawry on December 20th, 2003 12:16 am (UTC)
May I humbly request Buffy/Willow?
Trog: restlessrileyminitrog on December 20th, 2003 02:35 am (UTC)
That was a lovely read. Totally up for it. Now we just have to nip back in time and tweak the scripts...
The artist soon to be known as happydorkforeverdirt on December 20th, 2003 06:02 am (UTC)
Reading these makes me happy. Thank you.
Valancyvalancy on December 21st, 2003 10:23 pm (UTC)

I could eat these without a spoon.