Anna S. (eliade) wrote,
Anna S.

first lines meme. and lines. and lines.

First lines meme. Except I'm doing first paragraphs. Because they say more. These are in reverse fandom order, but not reverse chronological on the story level: Buffy, Stargate, Sentinel, and X-Files. It's interesting to me to see how terse the first bits of most of the Stargate stories are compared to the others, particularly since (a) it was my shortest-lived fandom, and (b) the stories are often from Jack's POV, and he's often a man of few words. But I didn't notice this at the time. The diction changes, too, from fandom to fandom. I'm not overly fond of the old XF stuff. I notice that my writing has relaxed since then, but other than that it's hard for me to tell which changes are due to time and craft, and which are related to the flavor of a particular fandom.


I've starred my own favorite first lines, which aren't necessarily my favorite stories. All of this, by the way, because it kills time on a Sunday night. If you see odd fontiness, it's because I did this in the rich-text mode, to preserve italics.




Buffy tried not to look like she was limping as she walked up alongside the boundary wall of the cemetery. Limping did not say: Victorious Slayer on a Rampage--Fear My Kicky Boots! No. Limping said ouch in a small voice, and asked you to wait a moment while the limper rested. -- Lion Shall Lie *


She parried the downward blow of his quarterstaff with a kick that rolled it off her shin, then tried to hook it with her ankle to send it flying, but the grip of his hand didn't yield; he snagged her instead and the ground rose to meet her. Rolling into the fall, she kept rolling as the training weapon came down point-first where her ribs would have been and stabbed into the mat. She leaped up and had to immediately duck a swing that sent her diving again. An impression of old, stinking mats, her own sweat and heartbeats, and the thick heat of the room coalesced around her. Her shirt stuck to the small of her back, and a healing cut across her upper back itched unreachably. -- Both Natures


It was seven-thirty in the evening and the sky should have been too light for a vampire to be out, but it was cloudy. They walked down Main Street, and she was wearing her eggshell-blue top, vee-necked, with its two ribbons hanging loose, and a long flowered skirt. He was wearing the coat, the jeans, the boots, a black shirt. He looked more corpselike than usual to her, shadows deepening around his eyes, lips a whiter shade of pale. Maybe he was hungry, or maybe it was just in contrast to the tanned girls passing them on the sidewalk, bumping one another carelessly as they giggled and chatted, wearing shorts and tank tops and looking so young that Buffy felt strangely old. -- You Were Wearing


The little boy with the dirty hands stared at her across the counter silently as if he could sense something about her that other humans couldn't. Anya narrowed her eyes. From some instinct she attributed to the maternal part of her body, she wanted to wash his grubby hands and sticky face. She also feared he might touch the merchandise. He had a lollipop that made one cheek lumpy. And, strangely, he wore a brown suit that wasn't at all suitable. It looked like the kind of thing someone might unpack from an attic trunk, like the childhood garb of a grandfather, or a great-grandfather, not that she had either one of those, but it wasn't hard to extrapolate, once you watched enough television. -- Carnival


"I'm just saying," Buffy told him, "You don't have to prove anything. Normal is looking a little weird to me right now, anyway." She grunted as the pink demon--what had Spike called it, a Goulash?--got in a swipe across her ribs, ripping her favorite jean jacket to ribbons. "Damn," she complained, and kneecapped it. Which didn't work too well as revenge went; it seemed to be double-jointed. "I mean, the carnival and that whole perky out-of-Buffy experience--ouch, watch my shoes, Mary Kay Hellbeast!--kinda left a sour aftertaste." She was trying to make him feel better, of course; she hoped it sounded convincing. -- Until the Axle Break


The dream began with familiar steps, but it didn't help to know she was dreaming. And by the time she opened the front door of her house, she forgot she was. -- Fundamental Things


Buffy had a growing pile of butterflies in her hands. They disturbed her; she kept half-expecting them to flutter to life, stiff wood turning to wings against her skin. Ever since Ilwyn's reign, when she'd often find the magicked creatures softly skimming around her bedroom, she hadn't looked at them in quite the same way. She'd left them hanging on the walls until now, unmoved to make changes, but she was ready to put them away for good. She'd already bought some nice prints to take their place. -- Cusp


Xander took a breath. "The sun," he said, staring at her. He swallowed. "It's gone." -- New World Order *


When he walked onto the balcony, the sky had lightened to a milky-white drape beyond the rooftops, whose dark, irregular slopes reminded him of Prague, though they never had before. The balcony itself, he noticed, was carved from heavy stone and guarded on either side by elaborate gargoyles, leering heads and tongues outstretched to lick at the air. -- Every Mother's Son *


The little girl walked down the street holding her mother's hand. She wore a red coat over her dress, white tights with black patent-leather shoes, and a ribbon in her hair. Her mother was holding her hand too tightly and walking too fast, but she'd complained already and her mom hadn't listened. She thought her mom might be scared, and though she couldn't put words to it, the girl had caught this fear like a persistent cold. She'd had it for days, and it was worse whenever they went outside. She used to go out with her mom, to the playground and the zoo. It used to be sunny. Now it was always dark, and when she asked why, no one would tell her. Now when they went outside it was only to get food, and then they returned quickly home. -- The Winter Soldier *


The ancient radiator under the window was hissing to itself as it grudgingly released heat, just enough to fog over the glass panes above, partly masking a view of falling snow outside. A few flakes whirled from the blur onto the already heaped ledges, the rest vanishing to the ground far below. Next to the radiator, a narrow table along the wall was laid with tea things; a dented pot with matching sugar bowl and creamer, plates of iced cookies and rum balls, a fruitcake. Bits of holly and ribbon ran along the table's edge, tacked there with an amateur touch. -- Demons *


She glided through the crowd under an expensively chandeliered glow, using her wide skirts to brush aside whoever stepped in her way. Ahead of her she spotted her prize; he'd been pointed out to her earlier and she recognized now the distinctive shape of the back of his head, the hair whose ridiculous color matched the brilliance of the lamps. In dandified, formal attire tailored for his short stature, he stood by the outstretched branches of a fir tree that had been uprooted from nature and strung with fairy lights. His head was bowed attentively as he listened to someone, an affectation of politeness she despised in her kind, even when she politically adopted it herself. -- The Beaux Strategem


In the steam baths, rank disappeared. At least you might think so if you were ignorant, young, foolish. Naziren was none of these things. Men stripped off the trappings of rank, but rank never disappeared. Across the bath from him, General Nilec leaned back against a step, a wet towel draped around his shoulders while a young human woman rubbed lotion into his bald scalp. He was grizzled, muscle tone loosening in his arms, his eyes framed by ridges that thickened with every passing year. But he hadn't slackened his grasp of power, and Naziren didn't drop his guard. -- Devices and Desires


"Spike," Angel said. -- Allies


Willow growled and Spike was gearing up to play ref when Dawn came in shadowed by Tara and radiating a mood so electrically charged it shorted out any further confrontation. She glanced at Buffy and Xander, gave a brief "Hey" that left them nonplussed, and stopped in front of Willow. -- Up, Down, and Strange


Xander threw his duffel on the dull floorboards and looked around. He hadn't spoken more than a dozen words on the drive, and every one he'd spat out was a hard little thing, like a bitter olive pit. That didn't help right now. Didn't make him feel better when he couldn't even talk without betraying his parentage. Even disowned, he was the un-love child of the Harrises. Dad's hardness. Mom's bitterness. Except that when he'd left--no, wait, because he'd been tossed out on his ass, hadn't he--his dad had been yelling. His mom, crying. God. A scene from some crap movie off the Lifetime channel. -- Sidelines


Summer was waning, fall waxing. There wasn't a whole lot of wax yet, but the worst heat of summer had burned off, leaving the nights two or three degrees cooler, a critical difference that in turn dictated shirtsleeves two to three inches longer, and so Buffy was wearing one of her new back-to-school shirts, bought just that morning, midnight-blue and midriff-hugging, its lower half resolving into a crepe pattern that her mom had been completely wrong about, unsurprising from a woman who still secretly liked batik. -- The Other Half Lives


They walked along the lawn toward Graydon Manor, following the curve of the drive under the heavy trees. The grounds had been kept up well by someone, probably a gardener hired by the realty company, and the acreage was enough that you'd need outside help--it would be a bitch to maintain otherwise, unless you liked the natural look. -- House of Many Hearts


"I think we lost them," he said, and that was the first thing he remembered saying. He was remembering things even as they happened--entering the alley, lacing his fingers into the mesh fence, listening to the distant shouts fade and a siren rise. He became aware that he was chilled, and that it was night. Maybe he wasn't remembering at all, but waking up. Yeah, that was it. He felt like he was coming to. Surfacing from...something else. He shook his head, trying to clear it. Magic 8-Ball says reply hazy, try again. -- Throwing Shapes


Spike had decided he didn't like looking at Xander Harris. The cheeky boy had turned into a man, and the man disappointed him. Man aged, man grew girth, man grew tired. He couldn't see himself in a mirror, but he could see Harris, and the poor sod carried exhaustion in his face the way Spike carried it in his bones. The human had earned it more than any vampire had, but to look that thrashed at score and three made you wonder what damage awaited him when that span was doubled. -- Closure


I am bored. I would like Spike to go to NYC and kick around in a funk until one day--needing money and blood, too souled to kill, too grumpy to fight the good fight any more--he decides to sell one of his few marketable skills and contracts himself out to an escort service, where he plays the bored role of stony-eyed rough trade to an unending series of eager businessmen. -- Subtleties *


Xander held up his hands as if begging the film to stop rolling. "Okay, no, no, no, see--this is not the part of the buddy-cop movie where the two guys have to pretend to be gay, and if it is, you can consider me officially leaving for popcorn." -- A Week of Wrong


"I think you're missing the point here," Xander said, framing a foot-long point with his hands as he leaned toward his beer. "I was jilted. For a troll." -- Your Horoscope for Today *


It was the kind of day that made Daniel glad to be out of the mountain and on his own world, no matter how restless he felt. He was sitting on his balcony. The wind was blowing away the heat of the sun, and blowing in a haze across the city. The thermometer on the railing read fifty-two degrees. He had a bottled water, bare feet, and three books open; one book on his knee, two on the small table beside him; one of Seth's holy books, discovered at his compound; Spiegel's Die Erzählung vom Streite des Horus und Seth; and a thick document, printed and bound, of the transcripts from the interviews of Seth's cult members, its cover stamped in dark ink: "Classified / Red-Alpha-SGC." -- Meetings


When he stepped through into the gateroom, the air became cool. Air conditioning. Oh hell, yeah. He'd almost forgotten about air conditioning. He paused a few steps past the gate and closed his eyes and breathed, while bootsteps clattered slowly past him. -- Out of Season


"I think we're a thing," Daniel said. -- No Man Is Born an Angler *


I don't consider myself a hard-ass. Smart-ass, yeah, okay, but not a hard-ass. In fact, if there was such a thing as a soft-ass, that'd be me. -- The Other Half


We tripped out of the gate onto P5C-421. The sun was shining, grass was green--always nice to see--and there were a lot of frogs. --  Taste the Earth *


Nobody ever said to me, "Here, stick this fish in your ear." They've tried to stick snakes in my head, but that's different. A fish I could maybe live with. Better than knowing that some techo-thingy has rewired my brain. I get enough of that. -- Lost in Translation *


Blair leaned on the railing, squinting into the sun. Recent weather in Cascade had been overcast, wintry, eight days' worth of rain driven into a week. This far inland, he'd expected it to be at least as cool, if dryer, but today was autumnal and unclouded. The late afternoon sunlight on his face relaxed the muscles around his mouth nearly into a smile, and made his nose twitch as if to sneeze. For several long moments he stared out across the parking lot, watching a family struggle their way out of a compact car, the movement of their great bodies like the heaving shoves of seals. He looked down and touched his own belly in reflex. Under the dark blue cotton his flesh felt both drumlike and soft. He'd planned to tone up during these past few months. It had been one of several plans that hadn't come to pass. When he looked up again, the swing of his hair reminded him he'd meant to put a hair tie in earlier. -- The Woods


"Stop looking at me like that. You wanted to come along." Jim continued to carefully circle the table of folded shirts, fingering and musing on them. He hesitated on one, sniffed. Its undefinably irritating scents entered him, an inhalation of molecules, the kind Sandburg was always going on about, and it struck him again, as it had been lately, that it was possible to be too conscious of things. Stuff. The world. Molecules entering his body. What was that? It was like some alien invasion. Tension pulled at his brows like a needle drawing thread. -- Sex


Blair bit the inside of his cheek to keep his temper in check and followed Jim inside their building, leaving behind the ozone and late traffic, and a cool grey sky that matched the sidewalks. The silence seemed to accumulate with every step and gathered further force as they stood waiting for the elevator. He could tell Jim's own temper was towing at its leash, and Blair felt a strong desire to be elsewhere or to punch the man somewhere tender in a way that would grab his attention. Unwise. Once Jim got started it would never stop. Jim could go a month, maybe two on an even keel, appearing to let things slide, pretending to mellow with time, but all the while a patented Ellison bender was rising like a tide. It was long overdue. -- Dystocia


Blair Sandburg was in the land of the Giants. The shelves and ceilings were so tall he felt as if a foot of his height had been lopped way. A foot he couldn't afford. Jim on the other hand looked right at home as usual, striding easily into the maze of lumber, tools, and fixtures like a woodsman into his forest. -- Curtains


"Why don't we take this again from the top?" said Jim reasonably. He glanced at the mirror, behind which he could distinguish Rafe's watchful form, the neat knock-off Armani-style suit, artfully tumbled hair, blandly handsome face. The youngster was eyeballing him again instead of the witness. Lovely. Just lovely. Blair'd been right all along. He owed him ten bucks. -- A Long Time Looking


"Hey, Jim," he said, not looking up. He'd nested on my couch like a rodent, burrowing into a quilt that Naomi had sent him last winter and surrounding himself with notebooks and sheaves of paper that created an effect of disturbed woodshavings. His mug of hot tea was perilously close to the edge of the table, and as I watched he reached out, snagged it, and brought it to his lips, all without lifting his attention from the page. -- A Night of It


It was that time of the month. My one week layover chez Ellison had stretched to three, then six. And now the rent was due. -- First of the Month


I sat in my sad hotel room in Norfolk, Virginia, staring out the window at the harbor and wondering how this small, grey port city had managed to attract any breathing participants for "Amazonian Shamanism and Ayahuasca: A Multi-Disciplinary Conference on Shamanism, Ethnobotany, and Ecstatic States." I was here though, wasn't I. -- From a Distance


It had been one of those days when the unseen forces which govern the universe array in perversity, when books fall, toasters fume, and even one's most comfortable pair of jeans feel as if they belong to someone else, someone ten pounds lighter or of a different gender. Every marginal, gnat-sized nuisance that life could devise had inevitably attached itself to Blair Sandburg that day. Faint odors of himself had plagued him; since noonish there had been a whiff of acrid tiredness in the seams of his clothes, and yet when he'd come across them on the floor this morning they'd seemed clean enough. Clean enough, he'd been sure, to wear in public. And somehow also today he could smell the inside of his nose, and a persistent waxy moistness from behind his ears. He felt grubby and inept, and spilling his latte on the steps of the Rainier Building had only made it worse, and then he'd navigated an awkward conference with a failing minority student who eyefucked him the entire time as if to convey to Blair Sandburg, B.A., ABD, that he was a lame and pitiful tool of the hegemony, and by the time his car huffed emphysemically at him, at precisely five ten in the afternoon when he tried to leave campus, he was riled at life. -- Strains May Float *


Only when the phone rang to wake him did Walter Skinner realize he'd been asleep. His heart jerked, eyes opened, and for a moment everything in him strained together, trying to orient within the well of night down which he'd fallen. Living room lamps stood here and there like sleeping sentinels, leaving the television as sole illumination, a source of stuttering light in the darkened room. From the open balcony doors, a chill breeze insinuated through the drapes and knifed the muggy, laden air. He'd shut off the air conditioner to let some real air in for a change, and the atmosphere was charged with massing ions, carried on a cold front like a rising wave. -- Continental Divide


It was a beautiful Sunday--sunny, lightly windy, with heavy white clouds drifting lazily across the stretching sky. Despite the bitter chill in the air it was a day to be outdoors, sailing perhaps, on a wintry white-capped ocean. Walter Skinner would have been pleased enough to be out mowing a four-acre lawn or cleaning gutters on a day like this, unseasonal though the tasks might be. -- The Getaway


"Somebody tell me this is not happening." -- The Fourth Day


I am sitting on the porch of the house I have finally made my own. That I've made my home. I've trimmed back the bushes, painted the slats, bought a bird feeder. Life is good--right? Actually, yes. Life is good. I didn't expect it to be; four years ago this would have been no more than an odd night's dream, born perhaps of the peculiarly inspiring chemistry of pizza, the scraps of which would have dissipated on my waking. -- Celebration


"Are you sure this is the right neighborhood," he says, his voice a small murmur. -- The Hustler


There was nothing quite like hot java in the cold morning, the man thought, his eyes lighting up when he saw at last the brilliant neon coffee cup in the slice of bleak urban sky ahead of him. The cup was pink, the bottomless spill of nirvana a bright shade of blue. Cerulean blue, his mind murmured. He shook his head irritably, a wry smile pulling at his lips. The world had always seemed to him a map of endless correspondences, a living map in which connections sparked to life while everyone else saw only the interstices, the blank spaces where no roads went; saw merely a blur of dots rather than their pattern. -- Fatherland


. . .or Bugs Bunny? Let me know. So I was lying there, appreciating very
much the philosophy of departmental waste reduction management. Can't tell
you how glad I am you sent me to this seminar. I've been thinking--you know,
we could cut down on a lot of excessively produced energy and reduce our
contribution to global warming if we only did the wild thing once a week.
Once a month? Annually would reduce our emissions to a minimum. Then again,
from another point of view, we could cut back a lot more unnecessary energy,
sound and fury signifying nothing, just by never leaving bed again. I'm
leaning more toward option two myself. Let me know your thoughts. I'm
sending you a. . . -- Fragments of a Man on Paper *


"What now?" -- A Little Vamp Tale


Dana Scully could see the light changing as if sensing the approach of her speeding car. If there were evil spirits trapped in traffic lights they had her number now. Hanging around with Fox Mulder was as good as painting a target on one's chest for all things paranormal. She cursed under her breath, a very unladylike, unScullylike curse that she saved for demonically possessed machinery and other special occasions. She bit her lower lip, hit the gas, and Sweet Blessed Mary save Mulder if he wasn't lying bullet-ridden and bleeding on his living room floor. -- Devil in a New Dress


It was dark and depthlessly warm; he couldn't move, and didn't want to. For a moment the man's mind blended the current sensations surrounding him with the sense of hanging high above a cold dark forest, among whose trees hung the thick webbing of swarming insects, and then he was on the forest floor, having fallen hard to land on his arm. In the dream he was a phantom, but real pain lanced through him. He still could not move, but remained bound by paralysis, which seemed to hold him in invisible tiny threads, which stretched and tightened...tightened.... -- The Night Visitor


Slumped into the crook of the couch and semi-absorbed in watching television, Alex still glanced up with the immediacy of old instinct when he heard footsteps near the apartment door. When the door began to open, his hand moved to the space between couch arm and cushion, where he had secreted a street-bought 9 mm, but then his dipped hand rose again--it was just Walter Skinner, carrying an overnight bag and a large briefcase. -- With the Night


Mulder got to his feet and stood there staring, unsure about the best approach to take when you're held at gunpoint in flannel sleepwear. -- Pyrolagnia


Well, look at me. This isn't a picture I ever saw myself framed in. And the frame itself has more of those gilded curlicues than I'm used to, more frills and frippery. I've never been anyone's fancy man before; I'm not the fancy type, or wouldn't have said so. Fancy man--fancy boy, more like. I know my place in the food chain. -- There and Back


"It hasn't changed," muttered Alex. His eyes narrowed in a frown, then gradually re-opened, lids flaring, pupils dilating, as he acclimated to the dim light of the cavernous room. A fair-sized cruiser could have docked within. The tiers of common-table seating and the gallery of choice, high-price booths around the edge of the pit were filled to capacity with a glittering multitude of many and varied races. Here, human dilithium prospectors sat cheek-to-jowl with Klingon bureaucrats and fleshy Orion businessmen; and smugglers, mercenaries, pirates, and minor tyrants of all stripes consorted affably together, at least until someone got killed. -- Little Lost Fox

The sky had turned the color of salmon, a shade of orangish-pink thickly edging the city's rooftops, and the treetops, few and nearly bare, that lined the street. Dry leaves scuttered lightly down the street in the wind, eddying around Mulder's feet as he stepped out of his car. -- Mulder en Brochette

It was raining again, the sky making sounds of determination and thunder across the rooftops of the city. It was a great, quiet, dependable noise. The mass of each raindrop was great, their mass arrival a steady thunk of fat, damp landings. -- In a Darktime *


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